Writing is not as easy with a newborn...
That being said, I've been working on collecting my thoughts on a variety of issues. And in the spirit of all things Trinitarian, I have 3 areas that are coming together for me.
1. As it turns out, I'm a terrible gossip. I don't mean to be. It starts off as venting and then before I know it, I'm just being mean and trashing people. It's the danger of the slow fade into sin and the reason I know I need to "avoid the near occasion of sin." I really started realizing how most of my conversations with a close friend of mine were always turning toward our now-difficult relationship with a mutual friend. I knew I was not being loving to either of my friends by continuing in this line of discussion. All we were doing was licking our proverbial wounds and nobody was actually getting past the injuries and forgiving our friend. It seems to me this is not what Christ asks of His followers. (Thankfully, my co-gossiper was feeling equally convicted on the need to stop this so we have been working together to do better.)
2. About this same time, I read a blog where the blogger posted an email written in by one of his readers where she implores people not to bring their young, noisy children to mass on account of the fact that she has an illness that makes her very sensitive to certain noises. She further made her point by suggesting children can't understand what's going on anyway. Shockingly (not!), the comm-box became flooded with arguments from both sides. People on both sides were angry. They were hurt by the other commentors' lack of selfless thinking. (Regardless of the side they took on the issue, most of the comments seem to boil down to "the rest of y'all aren't thinking about what's in my/my family's best interest, therefore y'all are being seflish!" Amazing.) But I couldn't tell anybody was suddenly having an epiphany and changing views. It just seemed more like a heated, pointless debate.
3. Then, as kind of a backdrop to all of this, there are the endless updates from anti-abortion/pro-life news outlets and blogs about Gosnell, all that he is about and the apparent lack of "MSM coverage." I'm not seeing much news lately, I don't have cable, but I will concede this issue hasn't exactly cropped up on the Yahoo! ticker. That being said, the coverage of this guy on less-mainstream circuits and, from what I've been told, on social media seems to amount to a lot of really gruesome pictures and rightful disgust over what this guy has done. But what seems to be lost in all of it is anything beyond finger-pointing and "you horrible, bad man!" The slaughter of children is appalling. The maiming of women is despicable. The fact that a person can reconcile it within themselves that these actions are ok is quite tragic in and of itself! But I don't think anybody is exactly adding Gosnell's name to prayer chains for his repentance conversion, and salvation.
So, I'm seriously wondering, are we adding to the hate? I took the first issue to confession. I was sorry for what I had done when I walked in, but boy did the priest let me have it! And rightly so. I needed to be reminded of the gravity of what I had been doing. He made it perfectly clear to me that my gossip was driving people from Christ and that I was not behaving as an ambassador for Christ should. I have heard it said that gossipers spend their time in purgatory being hung by the tongue. I wonder if that punishment is extended to all of us who tear down people with our words.
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Amrn
Happy Feast of St. Joseph!
These nights, I'm up pretty much most of the time, nursing V. (Yes, she's here at last!)
So early this morning, I pulled up the Papal Installation Mass. WOW! I'm a liturgy junkie and the more languages and elements from Eastern Rites that can be incorporated, the better! The coverage started at 3:30, so I admit I dozed off a little as PBS worked out their technical stuff. But I woke up just in time to see this:
I cried. I love that he blessed the babies. But even more, I love that he went down to this man and (presumably) his family.
Way to go, Holy Spirit! You picked a really awesome pope!
This lent, I decided that I was going to make it to Stations of the Cross on Fridays (V's arrival permitting!) and I really wanted to make this a family event.
The first Friday came, E and I loaded the kids into the car and hauled them off for 7:00 Stations- which was sure to be a penitential experience since they usually go to bed around 7:30. C was perfect. And then the Stations started and she started screaming at the top of her lungs. So E spent the rest of the Stations pacing with her outside. (I need an old priest and a young priest much?)
P and I remained in the sanctuary. He was very enthusiastic about saying the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be after each station, although he was confused about the lack of hand holding during the Our Father. His enthusiasm was apparently contagious as he began soliciting high-fives from the neighbors after he had successfully finished the 3 prayers. When this parish does Stations, they use projectors to display images for each of the stations. Pros and cons, on one hand, you don't have to move around from station to station. On the other hand, you don't move around from station to station. When the first slide popped up, P started pointing in front of us and exclaimed, "I see Mary! I see Mary!" Truth be told, the image projected was of a slightly feminine looking Jesus. I tried to whisper to P that it was Jesus on the screen. "No, I see Mary." it was at that point that I noticed the angle of his arm, still extended and pointing, was not quite high enough to be pointing to the slides. So I asked, "What color is Mary wearing?" "Blue. I see two Marys." Sitting about 3 rows ahead of us were the two nuns, dressed in blue habits. That was a facepalm moment...
Well, the second Friday came. C was fighting off another stomach bug so E opted to stay at home with her while I took P to Stations. This time, the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be were not the least bit novel. He had no compelling interest to be there. However, we definitely got more fodder for the ever-growing file of "Things I never thought I'd have to say as a parent." "Son, don't lick the pew." "I see you're pretending to be snake. Can you please be a snake that stands up?" I was trying my best to keep him focused on the Stations. I was quietly whispering to him what the different stations were about. So we had gotten through the 3 falls and we were up to Jesus being nailed to the cross. I wasn't convinced that P had been actually listening to my brief explanations of the pictures... until now.
(This isn't quite the image in the booklet, but close enough.)
P took a look at the picture and, because whispering is impossible, cried out, "Oh no! Jesus fell off the cross again!" Sigh...
C was still under the weather on Saturday morning, and since she had been dealing with that bug since Monday, E and I decided we'd plan to keep her home from Mass this past weekend. I took P to the Saturday 4pm vigil. Now, having only one kid in tow, I thought for sure we could handle sitting in the main sanctuary. Wrong, wrong, so wrong. We picked some seats much closer to the front than we normally sit. I was hoping for that mythical experience I hear other parents speak of- you know how it goes, "Sit near the front so the little ones can see what is happening and then they will behave." Good or bad, it's all behavior and boy did he behave! There was the drama over which side of me he could sit- not that I cared, I just wanted him to plant his rear. He was obsessed over my purse (I had left the diaper bag at home with E and C) and wanted to explore the contents. No thank you! The lady sitting next to us wore a sleeveless sweater and P thought her upper arms looked particularly inviting. So he starts stroking the upper arm of this TOTAL STRANGER. I'm raising a creep. Of course I tried to stop him and tried to move him to the other side of me while apologizing profusely, but that resulted in all sorts of vile things being uttered at me from the mouth of my 3 year old and a couple of attempts to hit me. We were somehow surviving the Liturgy of the Word when my son, the fruit of my womb, managed to derail the pastor in the middle of his Homily. Mid-sentence. After all of our fighting over which seat he should use and threats to be taken out and spanked on account of his disrespectful behavior, he finally realized that somebody (the Priest) was talking and he was expected to pay attention. He suddenly stood up on the kneeler, looked intently at the priest, and started waving and yelled out a single "Hi!" The pastor paused, waved back and said "Hi." Well, of course everybody turned around to see who the kid was, the old people were giving P that "Aw, aren't you cute!" look, and P was just eating it up. I, on the other hand, was somewhere between ticked off that these people were inadvertently encouraging my son to misbehave and hoping for a shovel so I could start tunneling my way to China. Just as the consecration was starting, P decided he needed to go to the bathroom. This required parading through much of the Church since we are not sitting on the side with the bathrooms. I'll be honest, in my embarrassment from his Homily disruption, I opted to walk with just a little extra 3rd trimester waddle. Maybe all of these people would be more sympathetic to my plight if I looked like the overwhelmed pregnant mother of a rambunctious pre-schooler. (I know, not the holiest way to approach being a disruption to others' during Mass, but that's why God gives us confession!) We returned to the pews just before that Doxology and Great Amen. Since it was still a kneeling time, I pulled P and I over to stand alongside the wall to wait until after the Our Father so we could be a little less disruptive by returning to our seats during the Sign of Peace. I stood there holding P when the organ swells started and the priest was singing the Doxology. The music was getting appropriately climactic leading to the Amen, and P was picking up on the emotion. He looked over at the altar, held up is arms and yelled, "IT'S THE CIRCLE OF JESUS!!!!!!!" I suppose the silver lining here is that he's on the right track theologically... We went up to communion, and of course he was not happy when his requests of "I want some circles." were denied. Little fit, right there in front of the pastor and the entire assembly...
For all of his misbehavior, at least nobody has to wonder if he's being educated and catechized.
My parents are hilarious! For a little bit of background, my mother has an awesome sense of humor, and it just so happens she has Parkinson's Disease. For the past year or so, she has also worked as a parish secretary, though not at the parish where my parents are parishioners. My father is one of the most gentle and patient people I have ever known. He is retired from the Air Force, although he still works for the government, and he's a deacon.
So last night, after dinner, I was taking out the baby bottles my parents had gotten for Veronica so I could wash and sterilize them and put them back up in the pantry.
So as I was looking at the packaging, I noticed where it says "Classic" and advertises its status of not having BPA. In an attempt to be bilingual, Evenflo opted to write "without" over the word "sin." (For those of you who no hablo espanol, sin is Spanish for... without. I love Chris Farley!) But darn it, it sure looks like it's saying "without sin." So I called my diaconal father and parish-secretary mother to thank them for getting their granddaughter "sinless" baby bottles.
Well, we ended up chatting for a while because, well, we miss each other!
My father and I discussed an email he had received at work, warning military personnel not to buy or consume a certain product called "Purgatory Vodka." Now, us being Catholics, it would be rather tempting (punny!) to buy a product with "purgatory" in the name. As it turns out, this product is being sold on-base. The problem is that it is made with hemp seed oil, which can cause somebody to test positive for THC. And the Uniform Code of Military Justice expressly forbids the consumption of such products. So we were having a quite the time shaking out heads over that situation.
Then my mom got on the phone and we chatted for a bit too. Big news being what it is, we started discussing the pope's resignation and the reactions we had seen. What she told me next had me in stitches!
As it turns out, there is an elderly lady, 85 years old- the same age as Benny himself, named Argentina. (Ironically, she's from Panama, but I digress!) My mom has gotten to know her a bit over the last year and a half or so as she often comes in to the office just to chat. So, Monday, after hearing of Benny-boy's resignation, Argentina came into the parish office- distraught. She cried to my mother how sad she was that the pope was resigning. She could understand that he was tired, she offered that sometimes she just wants to take a nap, too. But oh how she was weeping! And of course, my mother did her best to comfort this poor woman and reassure her that the Holy Spirit is guiding our Church and that we just have to trust in God's will. Argentina continued in her sobbing and told my mother how she cried for John Paul II.
My mother: Yes, we all cried for Pope John Paul when he passed away.
Argentina: No, No! I cried for him while he was still alive! He had Parkinson's, you know. It's such a terrible thing, Parkinson's. I cry for everyone who have Parkinson's.
It was apparently in that moment, that my mother was given a flash of wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Instantly, she knew she could not tell Argentina that she had Parkinson's Disease. Because if she did, she would have to say "DON"T CRY FOR ME, ARGENTINA."
I thought I was going to die laughing so hard! So there you go- the punchline that wasn't!
I've been digesting- specifically over the news of Pope Benedict's resignation.
I've read a few blogs, listened to a few news reports, and read a lot of commboxes. A few things stood out to me. While obviously there is a lot of speculation about what is really going on behind the scenes, I saw a few posts in commboxes from non-Catholics that were remarkable. They were offers
of prayers and good wishes for easy transitions and for God to provide us with the right leader. How magnanimous! How charitable! These comments were really emotional for me. They are fruits of Christ's prayer for "all to be one.
" And this was a bit inspiring for me too. I pray for the leaders of my government and Church. I honestly hadn't really thought about praying for the leadership of other faiths, beyond praying for them as general human beings. So, to those non-Catholics who are offering prayers for our Church, thank you for your
The other thing that stood out were the number of posts, blogs and comments alike, coming from Catholics who had converted, or in some cases reverted, during Pope Benedict's pontificate. I am a cradle Catholic, so I haven't walked a mile in these shoes. But the overwhelming theme of these posts was feeling saddened, abandoned, and even "fatherless." If I could, I'd love to give these people a big hug and tell them it's going to be ok!
I can see how this feels like having the rug pulled out from underneath us, especially for people who have been greatly influenced by Pope Benedict. There was no warning- I mean c'mon- there wasn't even any leaking of this from the Pope's butler several months back! And for people who have already experienced destabilizing events surrounding father-figures, I can see how this is all the more emotionally traumatic. I'm sure these people intellectually know our Holy Father isn't abandoning us, even if their hearts are breaking.
We are promised the Paraclete to guide our Church. I am very impressed by how Pope Benedict has handled this. He's been quick (some irony for folks who say the Church moves too slowly!) and he's been completely resolved about this whole thing. His reasons were straightforward and honest, and humble. For such a remarkably intelligent man, to have to acknowledge mental frailty, it must be a terribly painful thing to accept. Shoot! When I was in labor with my son and opted for the narcotic pain relief
, I remember being absolutely livid that I felt like I was thinking through Jell-o. I wasn't so upset that it did NOTHING to relieve my pain, I was ticked off that I knew I could think faster and yet I felt like I was mentally trudging through quicksand. I can only imagine how troubling and difficult this must for somebody who doesn't see an end in sight for feeling of diminished mental capacities- let alone seeing that it could still get worse. I think this shows a huge amount of love and trust; love for the people of God and trust in God's will. I say love for the people of God because no doubt he wants the best for us, including the best leadership. And how tempting it must be to feel a sense of personal failure to realize one is no longer up to the task so vividly entrusted to him by God. And yet, Pope Benedict has apparently spent a lot of time praying and discerning about God's will for him and the Church.
And how interesting that this announcement comes on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, patron saint of bodily ills. I can only imagine there is an element of offering up this suffering. The thing about his quick exit is that it gives practically no chance for him or anybody else to try to have an inappropriate say in who the next
Pope will be. It really is almost as suddenly as if he had passed away or had been given a very short time to live. This is real humility and trust in God's divine plan. I really believe that he is praying very fervently for the right leadership for our Church and for all of us to be at peace.And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him? (Luke 11:9-13)
We are going to be ok.
In the history of this blog, I have received 1 comment and it happened a few days ago. I was thanked for a donation I had made to Michael Voris of ChurchMilitantTV.
I've never made a donation...
But, ironically, this was on the heels of a recent comment I left on a blog post of somebody else, who was discussing Michael Voris. And in all honesty, my comment, while not meant to stir the pot, was simply a suggestion to take what Mr. Voris says with a grain of salt.
Ok, I think I more accurately called him "nuts."
I've never met Michael Voris. Based on what I've read, and the very brief amount of video I have seen on his YouTube channel, I'm not a fan of his delivery. And I'm not so sure I agree
with his take on Catholicism, either, but I'm not very well versed in his ideas.
So it was a bit surprising to see his name crop up. I have no idea if the two events- the comment I made and the comment I received- are related, but I can't help but think about scripture lines about turning the other cheek
and doing good to those who persecute you
. Have I been the recipient of such love of one's enemy?
I never set out to persecute anybody. But my words were careless. Furthermore, I forgot something important- Michael Voris is also one of God's beloved children. I forgot that he is a real person, with real feelings, real beliefs, a real soul. I'm sorry.
you for the comment, ChurchMilitantTV. Thank you for helping me learn this lesson a little.
I like Lent. It's not a crazy fun time, but I like that we have it. I also like that it lasts for 40 days (plus Sundays).
I don't like ignoring of the chunk of Ordinary Time that falls between the Christmas season and Lent. Ordinary doesn't mean mundane of boring. It is a season all about hope. The Gospels at the masses during this time are all about Christ's public ministry; the miracles He performed, the people He healed spiritually and physically, the parables He told and the explanations He gave. It's about His ongoing works of redemption. This isn't something trivial or negligible- this is huge. Without this public ministry, His passion, death and resurrection would not have been the climactic events that they were and are.
Why am I saying all of this? Every year, it seems like many within popular Catholic culture want to just glance over this time and hurry up to "prepare for Lent." Lent itself is a time of preparation. It is preparing for Easter. I don't understand this need to get ready for getting ready. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for planning ahead a little. By all means, think about what you might give up for Lent, or what extra tasks or prayers you might undertake. Plan with your families if you will participate in extra devotional practices. But I'm not a fan of trying to "jump start" Lent. Let Lent be Lent.
I'm honestly tired of the usual and cliche lines that get thrown out this time of year about making Lent a holy time. "Don't just give up chocolate. Look more deeply into your lives and find something meaningful to give up." You know what happens? The person who was all set to give up chocolate or some other "empty pleasure" now feels like that is inadequate- despite the fact that nothing we could give up would compare to what Christ sacrificed for us. So this person is now searching for the thing to give up that would be holy enough. Lent starts and he or she is still drawing a blank- so no sacrifice is being made. What could have been a perfectly wonderful exercise of self-denial has been reduced to not good enough.
Then there are the people who spend this pre-Lent time talking about their plans to lose weight, or deal with some other distasteful habit, and the plans to make this a life-long change- like Lent is the second chance to kick-start that New Year's Resolution. Then, those people spend Lent bragging about their dramatic weightloss. There are times when Lent can help us overcome a major obstacle in our walk with Christ. One year, my parents, without consulting each other, chose to spend that Lent working to forgive a family member for some really hurtful things that had been done and said. Come Easter morning, they didn't "take back" the forgiveness. But a Lenten project like that, which would spill over into the next season seems far more in keeping with the spirit of Lent and comes with a lot fewer bragging rights.
What really irks me is when the people who have poo-pooed the sacrifices of others and are in the midst of their self-improvement plan, then decide that they need to give up something else for Lent- like TV- to be truly holy. Then, when you see them on Sunday, they are talking about the things they watched or what they plan to watch because, hey! it's Sunday and Sunday's don't count. Huh? As a Church, and I know I'm over-simplifying this, we give up "alleluia" for Lent. We don't suddenly bring it back for Sundays. And when it's something like TV, and the person never really watched TV except for Sundays anyway, I'm left scratching my head. I know that Sundays are supposed to be mini-Easters, foretastes, if you will, of the joy of the resurrection. But that doesn't mean you have to un-give up whatever sacrifice you're making. It's still Lent. Look, I can't earn my way into heaven. I'm counting on Christ's mercy. How legalistic do I want Him to be with me? So I'm not a fan of being legalistic with Sundays in Lent.
While we're on the subject, let's also get one more thing cleared up. Fasting is the restriction of food with a prayerful purpose. It isn't a diet plan. Abstinence is giving up a certain item. We fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday (and we're welcome to use it as a means of prayer and sacrifice at other times too). We abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. So when you give up TV, you aren't "fasting from TV," you're "abstaining from watching TV."
My point is, have a good Lent. Christ spent 40 days in the desert. That's it. It was enough. Don't worry about if you're giving up something holy enough. You know if you're making a sacrifice and little ones made often are sometimes far more meaningful by their very nature. And don't forget about this Ordinary Time. Let this time be holy in its own right.
P and C had their first dental exams today. I was so proud of them! They only cried a little bit when the dentist decided to check their teeth with a mirror. (The nerve, right!) P cracked me up. He went first. He was all smiles and grins until that mirror and then whined and moaned for a few extra minutes after the exam was over.
Well, then it was C's turn. She got to the same point in the exam and started crying. P decided it was time to be a stoic, big brother and started reassuring her that it would all be ok.
No cavities! At the risk of making every dentist out there cringe, I rewarded my kids' good dental health by giving them each a chocolate covered doughnut- after we waited the mandatory 30 minutes of no food and drink because of the fluoride treatments.
A little over a year ago, E and I went to a county-sponsored workshop about composting and thus we began that little backyard adventure. Well, I have been thoroughly frustrated with it. I started off afraid to have to much green matter in it and so I promptly loaded up the bin with all the brown matter I could find- specifically all the dried up leaves from my front yard. I filled the bin. There was definitely no odor, but then there was no compost either. I started adding the grass clipping and then started trying to turn it periodically. With a completely full, woefully imbalanced, compost bin, this was definitely starting a LONG process. In the meantime, I had a successful crop in the little raised bed next to the compost bin. By "a," I really mean one successful crop. That was it. All I had after that crop was sand instead of dirt.
Meanwhile, the compost started churning a little, finally got hot and I thought I was on my way to having success. But I kept adding stuff to it, instead of following the directions from the class and starting a separate pile. There are sound and good reasons for rules. Well then I was ticked off that I didn't have usable compost AND dead dirt. I abandoned the garden plot and the bin for months, with the exception of adding occasional kitchen scraps. At some point in the last month, I looked out the window at the little plot and the bin. I had a dandelion weed easily 3 feet tall and several other HUGE weeds in the plot and growing out the sides of the bin. And I thought saw a random tomato plant growing in the plot.
I finally got out there today to deal with it. I got the enormous weeds out of the plot and realized, yes, there was a thriving tomato plant. And I needed to hurry and get it staked because it already had a couple flowers on it. I went to the compost bin and saw I had about 10 potato plants thriving. I transplanted the potato plants to the freshly weeded plot and then started working on the bin. With an old colander I had long since designated for compost, I started sifting the compost to separate the finished product from the unfinished. It turned out most of the bin was finished compost. The plot is full of fresh compost and actually smells earthy and rich. I was even able to fill a bucket with extra finished compost and spread a bunch of finished stuff over the sandy backyard. I watered the plot and the rest of the compost and staked the potato and tomato plants.
I was reminded of a couple very important lessons by this process. First, follow the dang directions. It really is the wise thing to do. Second, sometimes we have exactly what we need, if we're just willing to sift out the garbage we keep adding to the pile. This second one has applications for me in lots of areas, from grocery shopping to my relationship with God.
I'm a firm believer that there is no softer pillow than a clear conscience. And especially when it comes to legal and money issues, I really believe dishonesty is intolerable. I suppose it's kind of like being pregnant- you either are or you aren't pregnant/honest.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I ran a red light. Oh, I was kicking myself over it. I knew I ran it. There was a red light camera at that intersection and knew I was going to be getting that ticket. I certainly wasn't trying to be unsafe and I could go through all of my reasons that led up to that mistake happening. But the reality is that I did run the light. UGH! I immediately called my husband at work and told him what happened, apologizing profusely. E was very understanding.
When the ticket showed up in the mail, it was under E's name since his name is on the registration. No points were being assessed and the fee was unfortunate, but not unreasonable. E periodically drives the "company car" for work, and having a ticket in his name would not be great when his driving record gets pulled. And plus, we both knew I was the one who drove through the red light. I was all for getting the name changed on the citation. E sent in the notarized paperwork and a week or so later he got a letter in the mail saying he was relieved of the responsibilities of the ticket.
Today, I got the certified mail with the ticket in my name. I wasn't surprised that it came in. Although there were no points being assessed, I was shocked to see the cost had increased $97!!! I called the clerk to find out why.
The details were sketchy at best, but as best as I could tell, the company that is outsourced to take care of these red light violations decided something wasn't filled out right on the form or sat on the form or something, and then sent the violation to our sheriff's office. Once the violation was kicked over to the sheriff's office, the fee assigned to the violation was the same as if an officer had pulled me over, as opposed to the fee from the red light camera program. But... if I really didn't like the new fee, I could go to court and ask for mercy from the judge.
I've gone to traffic court one other time. It isn't like you get to check your day planner and find a time that is convenient for you. You really are at the mercy of the court for when they pick your court date- and they usually run about 2 months out. Well, guess what I'm going to be doing in about 2 months? Pushing out a baby! So... all I can do is pay the fine.
This is one of those times where I'm so aggravated that doing the right thing, specifically wanting to have the ticket in my name, is literally costing me more. I suppose I could offer this one up for the souls in purgatory, and hopefully I'll get there soon, but right now, I'm kicking myself for running that stupid light in the first place. Grr...