Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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A Start to Lent

Happy Lent, everyone! Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the desert, fasting and enduring the temptations of the Devil. In this way, Lent is a time for us to fight against the many temptations that flood our lives and turn our faces to the Lord.

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My face – with an ash cross after the service this lunchtime. :)

Not looking so glamorous, but I feel that probably sums up Lent in a face. Looking away from one’s self and looking to what one can share with others. Putting ourselves even more second to God and what He is calling us to do. Forget the fancy clothes and descendant food; for Lent, God and Jesus’ sacrifice should be the better focus our internal selves. We need to put aside the business of our days to find the silence and Peace of God in our every day lives.

Speak Lord; Your servant is listening.


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7 Quick Takes: In Which Research Takes over my Life

It’s time to pop over to This Ain’t the Lyceum for Quick Takes Friday. :)

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~1~

Well, my week dashed past. Anyone else feeling that? I have so many tasks to complete, including a presentation for next Weds for which I have a block load of reading anyway. *phew*

~2~

I have started my Psychological testing! It’s very exciting, because this is part of my third year work, and entails a great deal of my final mark.

Plus, as I was reminiscing with my lab partner earlier, it was a long two years ago that the tables were turned, and I sat in the cubicle room, working on computer tasks. Now, I’m here. Wow.

~3~

It does, however, feel like all I do is work, dance, and watch murder mysteries. Which is frustrating, to say the least. Not the murder mysteries part, just the whirlwind of readings, submissions, and swing responsibilities.

~4~

Speaking of Swing, you may have heard (or not) of Scott Cupit, a swing teacher who runs the London scene. Reading University are very excited (and blessed) to have him teach us tonight in a one-off guest workshop.

Scottie was the one who ran the World Record Charleston – for which I am an official holder now – and it’s fair to say that I am in awe of his skills, especially as he’s been taught by the legendary Frankie Manning.

Here’s a clip of him dancing.

~5~

I may not remember to talk to Christ every day, but I know that he is here beside me, guiding me. When I have a rough or busy day, like yesterday, with multiple things not going my way, it’s definitely comforting to know that His plan is leading me somewhere. I just don’t know where. Keep the faith, wanderers. Deus vobiscum.

~6~

Editing. I did a bit more this week, yippee! *insert jumping animal here*

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Thank you, Facebook stickers! :P

Granted, not much has been done, amount-wise, and most of my thoughts have been on structural edits/upping the tension.

~7~

Here’s a favourite new line of mine. It’s probably the most explicitly aggressive Rion has been to his family. I never thought he would actually pull a pistol on anyone, but – innuendos aside – considering the amount of warfare training he has, raising a weapon is actually a natural reaction.

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7 Truths About Your Baptism

A homily by Fr Stephen Wang.

I’d definitely say that, until recently, I’ve rather taken the fact of my baptism for granted – it’s something that happens and, unlike Jesus (or any adult who is baptised), children baptised in their full innocence don’t understand or even remember that they’re being initiated into the family of God. Regardless of this, they’re blessed by God and are saved from the moment they’re conceived.

Of course, it’s important to remember this, which is why this homily is meaningful to me. Baptism gives even those who have not yet learnt about God the welcome into His arms.

Let us all today give a thought to our baptisms and what they mean to us.


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Pray First, Worry Later

In an offhand comment made about the ecumenical community in which I live, my conversation partner and I discussed how to find God in the silence. By Grace, this coincided with the homily/sermon given by the pastor this Sunday morning, focusing on today’s passage of 2 Corinthians 12:

7 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

It is human nature to fret, is it not? Evolutionarily, to draw defences around ourselves at the very sniff of threat to us and ours. We are inclined to worry.

Yet, I may add, we have also been conditioned by our modern society to do so, with its implicit/unsaid rules about being, doing, and having. So, by that logic, it’s contrary to society that God is enough for our safety and security. – Yet, what does Paul say? He admits that it’s worth his boasting about his miseries and worries – because in weaknesses, we rely on God for our true happiness. Not mortal trappings—God. Not our own sheer will-power—God. Even our natural instinct to worry is outdone by God’s power to provide for us.

To provide salvation.

That’s why I called this post Pray First, Worry Later. Offer your issues up to God and He is already at work for us.

Happy Sunday. I hope your week (and year!) goes well.

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The Christmas Spirit

I went to Mass in Leeds Cathedral this morning. It was a beautiful building (new to me, as I’m still learning about Leeds life) and an energising service to celebrate the last Sunday of Advent and Mary’s Yes to the Lord. I’ve always loved the fact that John jumped in Elizabeth’s womb when in Mary’s presence – he recognises Christ even before he sees Him with his physical eyes, proving the power of the Holy Spirit extending even to the very very young.

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The famous painting of Mary and Elizabeth, The Visitation by Mariotto Alberti

That’s an incredible thought; and a greater blessing for those Christians who are expecting around this time of the year.

This year in particular, I’ve not felt the most Christmas-y. I have never much overly enjoyed Christmas, simply because I’ve never overly enjoyed commercialism, and I feel that the older I get, the easier it is to see commercialism at every turn. Nevertheless, today, 5 days before the actual event of Christ’s Nativity, I’ve finally started to feel the emotion and wonderment that is Christmas, the gathering of family and friends together to celebrate how much God loves us by giving us the greatest Gift.

Here is the Spirit Incarnate to come and save.

Even if you only enjoy Christmas for its holiday aspects, I wish you safety and comfort this December.


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Quick Takes Friday: 7 Ways To Be More Like Jesus This Advent

Okay, it’s not quite not quite Advent, but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and things I may do during this year’s Advent to better follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Of course, these are only some suggestions, of which there are many more to do.

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~1~

Pray more earnestly. It’s easy to get into the routine of thanks, praise, intercession, confession, and petition, where one forgets to really connect with God whilst praying. Mix up the time in the day in which you pray, and the styles of prayer you use – praying over The Bible, reflecting on your week, using a chant or singing, etc.

~2~

Give your time as well as your money. Of course, around Christmas everybody is giving to each other and hopefully to charity. However, especially in the winter, many charities are busier than ever, and they may need more hands. Follow Jesus’ example of putting others’ needs before your own, and volunteer some of your time to assist others where they need it most.

~3~

In the same vein, volunteer at your church. Especially in a university community like mine, we lose a lot of the community at the start of Advent, but this is actually when some of the bigger services take place, sometimes one after the other. A smaller church might be in need of (more) cooks or readers or ushers.

~4~

Abstinence for Grace. Some, most notably non-Christians, consider abstinence as being a dramatic action for believers, but abstinence actually consists of less ‘effort’ – there is no removal of food altogether, but a changing of habits, a lessening of what we take for granted, in respect to those who do not have as much. For one day a fortnight, one could fast to experience the Grace of The Lord.

~5~

Think over a passage in the Bible. I love Lectio Divina, the practice of reading a passage in the Bible several times and seeing if any words or phrases are calling to you. As well as inspiring in us a sense of peace, Lectio Divina helps us concentrate more on the message and feeling of the Word than simply reading it.

~6~

Share a compliment with someone you wouldn’t normally. Because Advent is about doing something beyond the typical that we do the rest of the year, it might be worth sharing God’s Love with a stranger or a colleague one doesn’t normally speak to. Give them a positive something to lighten their day. These spiritual habits are great to make, and what better way to start than Advent?

~7~

Spend more time with the ones you love. In the rush of daily, it’s easy to forget about those we spend every day with, like our friends, colleagues, housemates, and family. This might sound easy to spend more time with them, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to overlook the ones we love the most. This Advent, take a second to remind them how blessed you are that God has guided you together.

Blessings, have a lovely weekend.


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Christ the King

We discussed Christ the King in our Word reading on Tuesday. How Christ is the bridge between this material world of our sins and God’s eternity. How he has power over death and to conquer sin.

This feast was created to combat the negativity and growing secularity after the first world war, something which resonates very much in today’s society. However – as I reblogged earlier – Catholics are not on the downfall, and there are still many Christians out there teaching about the Word. I still see, in my life, people being inspired towards God and learning about Him. We are growing by our strength of faith and community spirit.

It is also the feast of Saint Ceciliatoday, who, as patroness of musicians, I have always felt close to. God has always guided me to music, but it took me a long time to realise that he was showing me that I can use my passion and talent for singing in choral praise to Him. Looking back, it is interesting to notice how my singing habits and interests have changed over my life (for it does feel as if I have been drawn to singing my entire life). I have a much narrower focus of singing nowadays, but it is almost exclusively centred around choral music, where I feel I achieve the most. I know this is not a coincidence. God has led me here and given me the chance to sing for Him; and I will.

So, today, as well as praising and thanking God for sending His son to save us, I will also be thanking God for music in my life.

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