A dramatic response to oats

I had intended to sleep earlier tonight, but as I am kept awake by my pesky joints I have decided to share my not-so-pleasant two days with you in hopes that perhaps a few celiac sufferer can find peace in knowing they are not alone sharing a common, yet entirely unlikely, immune response to oats.

Now those of you who may be savvy about celiac disease may be in a similar situation as I was yesterday going, “Well, isn’t it just an autoimmune reaction to gluten? Oats don’t have gluten though.”. Well, you would be partially correct. I had personally been under the impression since my diagnosis four years ago that the only issues I would have with oats would have to do with cross contamination from the fields where they are grown and the factories within which they are processed. I figured that I would be safe to try certified gluten free oats thinking that the only adverse effect that would ensue would be a potential intolerance like I have found with soy and other legumes. Lo and behold my understanding was flipped over!

Two tablespoons or so of oats later and I was set upon a severe reaction. Confused I scoured the celiac association webpages for any new findings on oats. My heart sank into my chest when I read about Avenin (the protein in oats with a similar structure to gluten) with a large caution warning stating that there are those amongst us who may experience an immune response, but there is no way of knowing who could be effected.

I am one of those lucky individuals, though my luck would likely not be considered good, who was diagnosed with a very severe case of celiac disease, where such severe reactions are now known to extend to Avenin. This means that when my immune system throws a fit like the drama queen it is, it throws a temper tantrum to disrupt the rest of my system. It plays pretend, acting like I have rheumatoid arthritis, everywhere, when in reality I don’t. So I am sitting here, kept awake by my “old lady” inflamed joints grinding against the bone, writing to you all with a warning to all other celiac sufferers who may not know: Beware of oats! If you aren’t sure if you will react, don’t go for a tablespoon. Please learn from my mistake, start with a tiny amount and reintroduce it slowly. The risk of the reaction is most certainly not worth the delicious flavour of the oats.

For those of you reading this with that understanding only shared experience can bring, I am glad to have been able to share this with you. For everyone else, I hope that this can bring more of an understanding of the complexity of the autoimmune disease and the wider variety of triggers that may set of the surge of battling antibodies, who have set themselves up to mutiny against their own host.

Now to be published

It is proving an interesting journey to become a published writer after the completion of my first novel. Though some churn out books at the flick of a wrist and others take many years for completion, my novel took the better part of two years to complete. A year and 8 months to be exact, though if include the editing process I would stretch that 10. I had never thought of myself as a writer until I had hit chapter 34 in my book, which now consists of 75 chapters sitting at a comfortable 99K words or so. A fantasy adventure in a world that mixes a grand mosaic of cosmology, I personify Magic and the adventures that follow in a universe on the verge of destruction.

Though I cannot say for certain, I hope that the story captivates its readers. I’ve tested my writing on a few friends, who seem to be chomping at the bit to read more, but as to whether it will be a success? Well, that would depend on your definition of success. I am hoping that my book reaches the hands of any of whom would find themselves enjoying a break from the mundane and searching for a trip into a new world. Following the lives of my characters as though walking into their shoes, watching as they act out in impulse, and cringing when they stumble. I want my book to be an inspiration when people need it, not bring them to greater places or journeys in life, but to bring them to a place they can call home when they feel farthest from it. Success to me is not in sales, or numbers, or fame. Success is touching the hearts of my readers, bringing them joy and anger, making them feel.

I hope when my novel is published that I can have that impact on even one single person. That my words can bring them joy and thrust them through a portal to live in a place they had never seen. Perhaps you will read my novel one day and throw it out with the trash, but I stand by the saying:

“One man’s trash, is another man’s treasure.”

 

A more realistic scope…

I began this blog thinking that I would be able to commit myself into the research necessary to pump out an article about a Catholic Saint every week, but I am finding myself in need of broadening the scope of my writing. I fear I have too many interests to cast aside all of the potentially thought provoking ideas that bubble and churn within my mind. I will take a lesson in Ignatian Spirituality for this one.

Though Ignatius set up his Jesuit order without any female orders available, that does not stop anyone from following the basic precepts of  his faith. I am not one so well versed in his teachings, but from brief passing and curious glances into his life, I have come to understand that I must adopt a philosophy that follows his footsteps. My spirituality and my day to day life cannot be disconnected, and as such I cannot allow myself to write only about the Saints of whom I learn and study but of anything that takes hold me and fills me with inspiration. Whether it is my religion, my novels, my art, my craftsmanship, my health, schooling or my teaching it is all equally important.

Though I will separate my writing into categories to neatly and discretely organize them by topic, my little nook of the internet will be filled with a wide range of topics that need most be written about. Some will be heavy in my spirituality, such as those posts I will dedicate to great saints, but others will not be. I hope you will still enjoy my writings and follow the trains of my mind and they go this way and that.

Pax Christi

 

A plenary indulgence for every month

Today I was walked through the stations of the cross with my Aunt, praying them for the first time. Last year had been my first lent after my RCIA the year before, though I was sadly unable to participate due to chronic  illness. I had seen the stations prayed once before, but I had never been given the opportunity to have anyone walk me through them; thus, leaving the divine mystery unknown to me until now. Though the experience itself was profound, what I found most profound of all was the fact that praying the stations of the cross, so long as conditions are met, could be offered as a plenary indulgence. What’s more, you can offer it once a month. 

I was first introduced to the concept of plenary indulgences with the announcement of the door of Mercy by Pope Francis earlier this year. The principle is fairly simple: you do confession, communion, say specific prayers and walk through a ‘door of mercy’; if you have done all of this with pure intent, your soul able to be washed away of all of the time you had accumulated in purgatory up to that point. You can also offer it for a deceased soul, essentially giving them a free pass and purifying them through your intentions that have been united with the sufferings and mercy of Christ. This is pretty enticing to do on principle, but plenary indulgences like the door of Mercy are not something you come across too frequently. I for one, thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and many of the Catholics I know had been under  the same impression.

Fortunately, there on the pamphlet guide to the stations of the cross, in fine print, was a little blurb opening the door to Christ’s mercy through regular prayer. The stations of the cross are a beautiful prayer and here is how you can offer it up to cleanse yourself of the souls of the dead: the stations and prayers must done in sincere meditation of Christ’s passion, following the gestures and genuflecting (kneeling) where appropriate and within 7 days you must participate in confession and communion through the Eucharist. Hidden away in a Lenten practice is a way that we can all join in Christ’s acts of salvation. 

In my opinion, aiding in the salvation of twelve souls a year through the simple act of prayer is something that we can all strive to do. I personally revel in the idea of getting to emulate so many saints that have lived their lives in pious contemplation of the Passion, helping all of humanity.

Pas Christi

-Sam

Back into the writing scene

Just as many others before me, I have come to the point in my writing where my previous blog has fizzled out and died forcing me to begin anew. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I have decided to start over. A new blog, fresh and unique from its predecessor. Where I used to write about academic issues centering in Linguistics and Religious Studies, topics discussing health and well being, issues pertaining to my personal growth and development; I have decided change my lens of focus, to one of a Catholic nature.

As a newly-wed Catholic convert, I have come to face an interesting dilemma in my religious formation: learning about those people I can strive to emulate, the saints. While there is much out there discussing tidbits and interesting facts relating the the patron saint of x,y and z, it is in their lives and the application of their practical intercession in my day to day life that I wish to understand. Before my baptism, two years ago this coming Easter, I have had the saints influence my life in a variety of ways. At the age of twelve I had the privilege to take a trip to Europe with my mother. During our stay in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy, I had the opportunity to make acquaintances with my first incorruptable saint: St. Antoninus of Florence. His figure remains etched in my mind to this day, a gaunt and elderly man having spent over 500 years in a glass coffin hidden away in the Dominican church of San Marco.

Years later, I was blessed to experience the Catholic faith with some of my extended family with whom I had grown estranged. With them, I found a home in the Church. Through them, I began to read of all the lives of those who had made profound impacts in the Church. I read of the little rose, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The Confessions of St. Augustine. I read of Hildegard and her Scivas. The diary of St. Faustina. I hear the mention of various saints through friends and family and grew ever more interested in learning of those obscure and unknown saints, to whom few remember to pray and ask for intercession.

I visited the heart of St. Andre Bessette, in the Oratorium that held his order, and over time found my heart swayed into the arms of Mary, the Blessed Virgin. In my baptism into the church, I chose St. Hildegard von Bingen as my patron in hopes of emulating her great and beautiful impact through grace and devotion to the cross. Yet, I have not and will not stop there. As I learn of the Saints, of their lives and their Holy works, I want to share them here with you all to give a new dimension to the Saints and their ability to intercede on our behalf before the Lord our God.

Though my primary focus of this blog will be on the Saints, there will be tidbits here and there where I share of insights that I have learned of the Church, as well as personal pieces that I will publish to this blog.

I hope you will stick with me through this journey.

Pax Christi

-Sam