These are the things that are probably on my desk at any given time as I strive to live a holy life in the world, not of the world. And no, the socks aren't mine, they probably were thrown there by one of the kids.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A month of sorrow and loss

Last month as I flipped the calendar to view May, I experienced a little trepidation. May is always a busy month for us with birthdays, end of year events, baseball, and a host of other late spring events. But this year seemed especially busy with an added First Holy Communion, meetings and other commitments. What I wasn't banking on, and who does, is having the unexpected death.

Two days after my son's First Communion, I attended the funeral of my uncle and godfather. Although his death wasn't a surprise, the realization that he was the last of my parent's siblings made the event that much more somber.

A week and a half later, my sister's nephew was killed in a car crash. Knowing the family for 40 years, my heart ached for them and what they were going through.

Fast forward to several days ago, I realized that I was experiencing a miscarriage. At my age, people hardly view pregnancy as a positive thing and so my husband and I chose not to tell anyone, thinking that miscarriage was a very real possibility. In truth, when I found out that I was pregnant, I was a little frustrated thinking about carrying another child to term and knowing how hard the last pregnancy was on me. But, I also know that all life is a precious gift from God and I choose to embrace that beautiful life that God had given me, understanding that it may be for the remainder of my life or for a considerably shorter time period. But miscarriage is never easy even when you know that it is very probable. Experiencing a miscarriage is a very painful experience both physically and emotionally but I thank God for entrusting that life to me for even that short period.

The hardest part about miscarriage is society's lack of understanding. In a culture that embraces abortion, there is very little understanding for couples whose child has died before birth. Unfortunately, society also embraces the notion that if you want the baby, it's real and if you don't, it's not real, an indication of a dysfunctional society to be sure. But, since society can't see the baby, then it couldn't have been too real, so you should just get over it and certainly don't talk about it.

As I was dealing with the physical and emotional effects of this on Monday, my daughter and her boyfriend came home to tell me that one of their friends was in a motorcycle accident and not long after they informed me that he died. This young man was set to graduate high school next week. He came from a large family who I've known for the past 12 years and saw regularly as their mother and I often worked on church projects together. So for the second time this month, my heart aches for a family as they endure the unimaginable.

I can't imagine enduring any of these events without faith. Faith is what sustains us. It strengthens and upholds us through all of life's trials.Our understanding of God's love and mercy should comfort us through dark times and give us hope in the eternal.

Please pray for the families that have endured the losses this month.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

He is Risen!

I'm a little late in saying this (although not really, because Easter last 50 days!), but Easter Sunday was quite hectic. Although we stayed home on that day, dear husband still had to assist with Masses in the morning and we had company for dinner. But just keeping up with the house and preparing food seemed to take the whole day.

Yesterday, I was back to the grindstone with necessary shopping, laundry, and other activities. But this is such a special time of the year that I wanted to stop and reflect on this beautiful season. Our Lord Jesus has conquered death. Love is more powerful than death! Love wins and evil loses. What could be more special than that?

We attended the Easter Vigil on Saturday night and the littles did wonderful. I didn't have to leave the church once. It was also a wonderful evening because my son's girlfriend of a year-and-a-half came into the Church! She is such a sweetheart and we were very moved to be a part of her special day. This picture was taken at the conclusion of Mass. We were missing our oldest daughter who unfortunately had to work.

May you have a truly Blessed Easter Season!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Unless you acquire the heart of a child...

Okay, I admit it, we don't recite the Rosary every night together as a family. Fact is if we say it together once or twice a week, I'm thrilled. So it must be because we don't say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy together, except for the novena that began yesterday, that my five year old took pause at the different order of prayers. As I said the Apostles Creed, he interrupted me at the 'descended into hell to say, "No! Jesus didn't go to hell, he went to Heaven. That's not right." At my Rosary group, we say 'descended to the dead,' now I know why with all the young children.

Ah, the heart of a child...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Passion Play Performance

This Lent my 16 year-old daughter is participating in a traveling company Passion Play production. She participated last year, but this year the company is staging the performance significantly more. She's had a crazy hectic spring finishing up in the school musical then plunging right into practices and performances for this.

Last night she had someone film her singing on her phone. The quality is terrible but she sings a beautiful solo Last Night as Pilate's wife, who had a dream about Jesus, an innocent man who is to be put to death.

Truthfully, I had just wanted to send the video to family via email, but it's too long and I figured it was just easier to post it here.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Grandmother's Catechism

I'm very fortunate to have my grandmother's catechism.

My grandmother was born in 1900 and was the youngest of 11 children. The copyright of the book is 1882!

I'm sure that my great-grandparents bought the book to teach their children the faith. Their oldest child was born in 1878, so I can almost imagine my great-grandparents as parents of young children wanting to share the faith with their family and purchasing this book to instruct them, in much the same way that I buy books to teach my children about their faith.

My grandmother didn't have much of an education. She was raised on a farm in the north hills of Pittsburgh, but she was a very devout Catholic who instilled the faith in her own six children, despite being widowed at the age of 32 during the depression.

When I look at this catechism, I'm struck by how 'no frills' the book is.

And yet, it's as straight forward as it gets.

I love the Baltimore Catechism. Questions and answers. No fluff.

In the 15 years that I was a catechist and the 22 years that I've been a parent, I've seen some really BAD religion textbooks and have dealt with some DREs who have pushed for texts that were visually entertaining at the expense of substance. "Faith must be caught, not taught," a few would say. Yes, but religious education should be about teaching the faith and 'catching the faith' should happen when children see how we live our lives. Children should see how their parents, catechists, and peers live out their Christian faith in love and catch the faith, if you will, from those experiences. If they have to catch it from a textbook, it ain't gonna happen.

Those fluff religious texts? If it lacks substance, then we're just setting up our children to be entertained and not educated and the result will be adults who don't come to Mass because they "don't get anything out of it." What they are saying, without realizing it, is that they aren't being entertained at Mass and they don't understand what is really taking place.

I've taught using textbooks that instructed students to make dream catchers every year and Native American beliefs were emphasized. I've heard about high school kids who spend their class time rewriting the Beatitudes or Psalms in modern language and youth group classes where students aren't learning the faith but are asked touchy feely questions like, "Would you die for God?" Our children aren't dumb, why do we treat them like they are?

I was a catechist for a while in a different diocese than I live now. We had a good textbook, but we also were required to review the Baltimore Catechism. Just my opinion, but the children there seemed to know their faith better. Of course, more was expected of the parents as well, but parish life was very vibrant. Coincidence? I don't know but children who don't properly learn the faith become adults who don't know the faith and probably won't practice the faith.

I've used quite a few resources with my children including textbooks, but I still like the question and answers catechism. Both of these are part of a series and are great:

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Catholic picture books, picture Bibles, websites, magazines and whatever else gets children excited about their faith. But, for learning and reinforcing the faith, you really can't go wrong with the basics. I'm sure that Grandma would agree.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Is it humble to talk about striving for humility?

I've been thinking of writing this for the past month but haven't had the time. This is about God's will for my life. This is about accepting and embracing what God has in store for me.

During the five years that my husband was in diaconate formation, I rarely let it affect my life. I mean, we did scale down some of our volunteer activities and some of the joint ministry activities. But it wasn't until he was ordained two and a half years ago, that I really had to humble myself and it hasn't been easy. At about the same time that he was ordained, I encountered personalities that were jealous of my husband's ministry and since they couldn't cut him out, they chose to do it to me. Probably one of the most painful times in my life. It was difficult for me to be the target of egos when all I wanted to do was serve. I shed many tears, maybe for selfish reasons of wanting to be included, but also because I felt that I was trying to do God's will.

With the birth of our sixth child six months ago, I've had to once again adjust. Now I'm a pro at adjusting: I've been married for over 22 years, have moved five times and have lived in two different cities, have had babies spanning 21 years, and had a husband that traveled a lot for work and eventually a deacon serving in ministry four or five days a week. But this time has been harder for some reason. I just can't find the time to be as active in serving as I have in the past, not with my husband's ministry and family commitments. But God has been gifting me with an understanding of what He wants from me. Not what I expected, but one that I'm embracing.

So, I think I have a better understanding of 'talents' that God asks of me. I have for a long time as a SAHM who thought in my early years that I would be a career woman but found myself home with children and am still home after 19 years. But sometimes 'talents' mean what you don't involve yourself in so that you enable others to do that, whether that be your husband, children, or members of your community.

I may be the best singer (I'm not really!) or the best speaker or whatever. But it's not for me to be in the spotlight even if I am the best. My time has past. My job as a mother or mentor is to encourage those with abilities to come forward. Good leaders in the Church recognize this and good parents do too. Any leader who can do their job without appearing in the limelight is the true leader and being the 'man behind the curtain' is sometimes the most important job of all. That is how I am being called to serve now.

I certainly don't want a pity party, although writing this post I realize that I might somehow be asking for one. Can you write about striving for humility without sounding anything but humble? I guess that what I'm trying to say is that even when you allow God to guide you, and you know that it's different from what you expected, you can't ever get too comfortable in thinking you know what God expects from you because come tomorrow, He may be asking something different. Something that you never dreamed of doing. Are you humble enough to follow?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our Lady of La Leche

I believe it was when I was nursing my fifth child five years ago that a friend gave me a holy card of Our Lady of La Leche from the shrine of the same name in St. Augustine, FL from which she had just returned. Admittedly I never heard of it, but it was a beautiful image and something that I could definitely relate to.

Since that time I have held that holy card in a devotional book that I've picked up from time to time.

I'm recounting this because St. Peter's List has a post of twenty images of Mary nursing the baby Jesus (well actually 19 as the last one is a painting of St. Bernard with a statue of Mary that 'came to life'). The post certainly affirms the maternal of our Blessed Mother.