I'm still partial to the one put out by Catholics Come Home (below), but the one above isn't half bad!
This was created about three years ago by a blogger at Defend Us in Battle Blog named Joe. I'm not a fan of the music choices, but I absolutely LOVE the images he chose and the various words he chooses to describe who we are as Catholics. It was picked up recently by Ignitum Today which is the only reason I was lucky enough to stumble across it.
I'm still partial to the one put out by Catholics Come Home (below), but the one above isn't half bad!
The meme below comes to us from the talented and amusing Catholic Meme's FB page. Apparently they pulled a quote from the ever-poignant Father Dwyer of Busted Halo fame and posted it to a rather sleepy photo of dear St. Joseph.
At first glance, you might get a chuckle from it. After all, it's Catholic Memes! They are very tongue-in-cheek and self-aware. I don't think I've ever seen anything outright malicious come from their page. I don't believe this to be any different. It's meant as a light-hearted tease, I'm sure, that (hopefully) points to a more thought-provoking reflection on St. Joseph's quiet contemplation and support for his Holy Family.
However, I could also see how this can be taken to be demeaning to some husbands. Certainly there were a few women who openly heckled their men to be "less" in some way or another. Again, I don't think it was malicious. I think these folks feel comfortable with the Catholic Meme crowd and trust that their teasing won't be misconstrued as mean-spirited or spiteful.
Of course, inevitably someone finds issue with this and some comments spiraled quite a bit down the rabbit hole. However, I posted the following, which I thought was a very important point to make:
Father Dwyer (I think different from the one originally quoted, or maybe I'm just wrong altogether about who was originally quoted), obviously thought my remarks were unwarranted, or that I didn't get the joke, but my point wasn't to be a party pooper. I acknowledged my own giggle, but I didn't want the joke to overshadow a very concrete truth about St. Joseph (and judging from some of the other commentary, that's precisely what happened).
St. Joseph may have had no recorded words in the Gospel narrative, but his fatherly voice has not only resonated through the Gospels - it has resonated through the ages. His quiet, gentle leadership and protection has always been acknowledged like an afterthought. We're all about talking about the Holy Spirit or Our Lady or any number of saints, but when it comes to St. Joseph, his name only seems to be invoked when death is imminent. We don't speak of him much because we don't know much about him.
I was thinking about that because even in my own experience, St. Joseph was this distant father-figure who really didn't factor into Salvation History. He was a statue that held Baby Jesus in the Church. That's about it. That's all I knew about him - until I read The Life of St. Joseph by Sr. Maraia Baij.
I felt like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. That book was my house, and it landed me square in the middle of a world I couldn't even dream of.
As a result, I've really grown to both appreciate and admire St. Joseph's place in both my life and the Church. Thus, any time someone even remotely demeans him (even in the most tongue-in-cheek way), I can't help but feel a bit "icky." This holy, humble, super amazing father-figure should never be emasculated for the purpose of a sexist joke, ya know? At least in my opinion.
It's just off-putting for me.
Anyway, I couldn't get the meme out of my head the last few days, so I finally allowed my mind to wander on it as I drove to work.
Ya know what hit me? Joseph's actions spoke louder than words. He might not have ever had a formal "Fiat" in the manner of Our Lady, but good luck convincing me that Matthew 1:18-25 wasn't the first of many for him:
"...When his mother, Mary, was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'
... When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home."
Just think about it! Right after Mary said "Fiat" to Gabriel, she went off for several months to look after her cousin, St. Elizabeth. She was there for six months! Just imagine St. Joseph's surprise when he picked her up and found her to be round with Child!
Now imagine his incredulous shame as his neighbors start insinuating that Mary cheated on him while she was away with Elizabeth. St. Joseph knew Mary was a pure and holy woman, but he couldn't understand the situation as it presented itself. The poor man must've been a mess! Oh, how he must've prayed to the Father for guidance!
And God answered his prayers with a question. He basically said, "Joseph, things are not as they appear to you. You cannot see My Plan for salvation, but I'm asking you to be a part of it just the same. Can you trust Me? Can you endure the stares, the indignation, the misunderstanding of your peers and consent to allow Me to use you for the greater salvation of sinners?"
And St. Joseph, ever the faithful, loving, humble man he was created to be, gave his heart over for the sake of the world. Thus, in every way that Our Lady is, indeed, our mother, St. Joseph is, indeed, our father. Both consented to take part in God's plan for Salvation not for their benefit, but for OURS.
And that, my friends, was, is and always will be St. Joseph's "Fiat."
I apologize for being MIA for a while. I wanted to pass along our gender reveal since I know many of you have been praying this little one into a healthy existence. My thanks and returned prayers for your love and support. :)
Guess who found a new Christian artist to follow? THIS GIRL!
I happened across her page while scrolling through a Catholic blogging network I'm part of. I'm so happy I did, because you folks know how much I love me some Marian art. What's so interesting about Zainal's work, however, is the effort she makes to approach Our Lady with the eyes of various cultures throughout the world.
We've all seen European versions of Our Lady, but how many of us have appreciated the Blessed Mother through the lens of the Japanese, the Nigerians or the Taiwanese? Thus far, Zainal's influence is Asian in nature, but her work points to the universal beauty of our Heavenly Mother. I love this idea! I especially love how simple her pieces are. I almost want to purchase a bunch of them and turn them into a coloring book for my son because the open space begs for splashes of color.
Fun fact: Our Lady of La Vang (left) is one of my favorite "versions" of Our Lady. I think she's beautiful, regal and incredibly loving, but as Zainal points out in this description, she is also fiercely maternal. I fell in love with this image so quickly that I ended up purchasing it as a set of note cards through Zainal's Society 6 page.
In truth, I like Zainal's style (and we all know I love her choice of subject immensely). I wanted to take a moment to share her with you folks. Do yourselves a favor and check her out! You'll be so glad you did.
I got a shower the other day, and after hopping out of the tub, I wrapped myself in the towel that had fallen on the floor. No big deal, I thought, it probably slipped off the hook.
I walked into the bedroom to put some clothes on, and when I took off the stupid towel, I realized I was covered - COVERED - in cat hair.
Awww, c'mon now! I had JUST finished getting a shower. Why the heck did I have to instantly cover myself in a layer of dander and fur?
Frustrated, I hopped back into the shower to rinse off. I grabbed a NEW towel from the closet and went along my way.
However, while I was showering for the second time, I realized that I do the same thing after Confession. How many times have I come out of Confession with a sparkly white soul only to go home, pick up a bad habit, and get it dirty all over again?
A lot. In fact, I'm pretty sure my priest should have a rotating door on the confessional precisely because I'm so incredibly good at repeatedly screwing up.
I guess it's good Christ never tires of forgiving us, but I really wish I didn't keep falling into the same habits over and over again. I always think of St. Paul and that thorn in his side. It's good he never specifies what that thorn is, because we can all relate to a particular sin that tends to pulls us down over and over, but I can't help but try to picture him struggling with the sins that I'm so good at failing with.
I seriously imagine him on camel back fantasizing of dinosaurs trampling the slower camels in front of him (or who don't signal they're trying to turn). I imagine him gorging himself on desserts or opting to spread the word that Peter's preaching isn't as good as his.
Heh. Terrible, right?
Maybe instead of trying to pull St. Paul down to my level, I should try to raise myself up to his and steer clear of cat towels. *Grin*
So last week, John called me to let me know that there had been an incident in school. Vince's regular teacher was out for a week, so he was in a substitute's class. He'd been with her for about three days, and all three days, he'd come home with notes like "Not doing work" or "Being defiant."
Now I know Vince has trouble when his routine is messed up, but that's no excuse to not do work or be defiant. So I spoke to Vince and punished him accordingly, but it didn't help. Day four rolled around and the substitute pulled John aside to explain that not only had Vincent been defiant, he'd kicked her chair and called her "fat."
*Shame-induced heart attack*
My son was aggressive with both his words and actions?! NOOOOOO... it has been so long since he's acted out in this way. I felt awful for the sub who was obviously having a tough time controlling him, and I felt doubly awful that my son was responsible for saying something that was potentially hurtful to her.
I was angry with Vince - angrier than I think I've ever been. John was upset, too, and neither of us knew what to do to punish him properly. We'd never had him do something so offensive. So the entire way home, I was trying to come up with a punishment that fit the crime. I settled on a good old-fashioned written apology letter.
Not an easy task for a 5 year old who barely spells colors let alone full sentences expressing remorse.
Anyway, when I got home, I had a conversation with him about how disappointed I was and how hurtful what he did was to his teacher. I kept having him respond to me so I knew he understood just how serious the situation was. John had already spoken to him and punished him by taking away two of his favorite toys, but he knew I was going to go a step further so he left the rest to me.
After I felt he understood why he was in trouble, I explained how he could help fix things. I sat him down and had him tell me - in his own words - why he was sorry and how he felt about his substitute teacher. I wrote out his words on a separate piece of paper. When he was finished, I had him copy my transcription, himself, into a card he'd decorate for her as an apology.
Yeah. Believe it or not, it took him what seemed to be forever to write five sentences. This was mostly because he tried to rush through his words and I'd erase them until he was neater. If he was going to write her a letter, he was going to write her one she could actually read.
I then put his letter and my transcription (and a note explaining it) together into a packet for the substitute so she understood where the words came from and what John and I had done to punish him for how he acted. I wanted her to know that we took his actions seriously and appreciated her efforts with him.
Days like this are not fun. They make you feel like the worst failure of a parent ever. But ya know what? After he'd finished the letter, his babysitter (God bless her, she witnessed the whole experience in patient silence) came over and said, "I'm really proud of BOTH of you!"
I laughed, because I thought it was ridiculous to be proud of me given the circumstances, but Meaghan (the sitter) said, "No, I'm serious. That took a really long time, but you got him to do it and I really think he understands why it was wrong. His teacher will appreciate that. I wish more of my students' parents would be so serious."
That comment made me feel so much better. Yes, I'd obviously failed somewhere along the line to produce a child who would ever utter such a thing to someone, but I am a good enough parent that I worked hard - immediately - to make sure the situation was a learning experience for him.
Thank God, too, because I can't even tell you how terrible I felt until she said that. Ugh!
And I'm happy to report that not only has Vince been a stellar student since, both his sub and his regular teacher (who is back) said he's been BEYOND stellar. He's gone out of his way to be helpful, is super courteous, and "listens the first time a lot better" (which is like me hearing he won a Nobel Prize because I've gotta tell him things a dozen or more before it registers).
Even in our failure there is hope for success. I'm really proud of how the three of us handled this situation. I just sincerely hope nothing like this ever happens again. God forbid!
Have you guys ever had times like this where you just had no idea how to punish your kids? What'd YOU do?
The above fella goes by the name of Brett. He's a pretty cool dude who just happens to be enrolled in RCIA. That's right! We're welcoming a brother back into the fold. How exciting is that???
I'm the lucky duck who gets to be his sponsor, and I'm so freakin' proud of him! He's the best candidate the Church could ever hope for because he's ridiculously smart, incredibly well-versed in our theology, and has a willingness to expand that knowledge and share it with others. Heck, he's even been able to teach me a few new things!
So I'd appreciate it if you kept this one in your prayers as he continues his Catholic development. Leave a few high-fives and words of encouragement if you're so moved. He pokes his nose around here every now and again. *Grin*
Many of you have heard of the Drive-By-Ashes or Ashes To Go programs that have popped up in the last two years or so. I was always a bit put-off by the idea, because I felt that the ashes were somehow given priority over the Eucharist. The meaning behind the ashes, in my mind, became lost to the popularity of "proving your faith" once a year.
Now that I've given it more thought this year, I've come to a slightly different conclusion.
A coworker asked me why there were ash crosses on everyone's forehead. I explained that they were a sacramental, and it suddenly hit me as to why I shouldn't be so upset about priests doling out ashes to folks in planes, on train platforms, or in a sort of drive-by service.
Ashes are a sacramental the same as a rosary or scapular. What makes handing out ashes any different from handing out rosaries or scapulars? Heck, even small pocket Bibles have been known to be passed around during rush hour, so why should ashes be looked on as anything different?
I still prefer ashes to be utilized during (or immediately following) Mass, because the focus is on the Eucharist and not the ashes, but I can understand why some clerics have chosen to go this route to help with evangelization. Ashes unite Christians in a way that the Eucharist currently cannot. The simple existence of these marks on our foreheads each year inevitably spark conversation that, hopefully, leads to conversion.
So hopefully these "drive-through" programs will serve to reach out to bring others back to the Church more than they enable the faithful to become lazy in their practice. After all, just because I'm handed a rosary on a train platform doesn't mean I figure Mass is no longer necessary. I wouldn't assume that the rosary is somehow more important than the Eucharist.
These clerics give what they can to those who are open to receive. I can't fault them for that.
So while I'm still not in love with the idea, I can at least appreciate it for what it is.
Any of you come across this? The photo above was taken by my coworker who saw this priest at a train station in Philly. I'd love to know if any of you have seen it firsthand and what your thoughts are on it.
Also, here is our obligatory #ShowYourAsh photo. Vince was bummed his cross wasn't darker. I think it's because he kept wiping at it throughout Mass. *Grin*
I admit, I tend to wear mine like a badge of honor. I love feeling connected to random people all day when I see the cross of ashes and they notice mine. It's like a hug.
"Oh, you're partaking of the Lenten journey? We're together in this, you and I!"
Plus, I feel like if I were to wipe them off, the ghost of Sr. M would come back to haunt me. Ha ha ha ha. But I digress.
What are your thoughts on the Ash Crosses?
This is a repost from 3/6/2014. I thought it was a good refresher, though, since folks are already starting to warn others about the "sinfulness" of showin' ash. ;)
Yesterday found Twitter aflutter with some of the most amusing Catholic hashtags I'd ever seen. Things like #Ashtag and #ShowYourAsh. It was so much fun seeing these #CatholicSelfies, because each ashen forehead was a reminder that we are ALL united in our humanity. More than that, however, we all belong to Christ, and as such, are marked by the sign of His ransom.
Thus, I LOVED seeing these!
However, alongside this bubbling evangelism, a parallel sentiment was trying to stifle the conversation.
Folks were commenting on these posts in condemnation, suggesting that those who were posting them were doing so for arrogant purposes.
C'mon now. Seems a little bit arrogant to take the time to make a post implying the original posters were too stupid, lazy or prideful to understand the "meaning behind the Lenten readings."
To me, that screamed "Look at me and my super-humble-but-not-overly-super-because-I'm-still-humble humilty!"
Annoying. Very, very annoying.
The Ash Wednesday marking is a communal prayer - an outward expression of an inward faith. Much like saying Grace at meals in public. Much like making the Sign of the Cross as a pitcher when you take the mound at a baseball game.
We NEED more public witness, and I'm glad folks found unity - and joy - in sharing these photos. After all, Lent isn't just about sadness, misery and self-flagellation. It's about the joy of knowing we have been called by Christ to join Him in Eternity.
After all, this is the same mark used by the unnamed prophet in Ezekiel who runs through Jerusalem putting the "tau" on the foreheads of the righteous. "Tau" is the Hebrew letter "T." Anyone not marked with this letter was slaughered while those with the mark (much like during Passover) were extended mercy by God.
That's right, folks. The forehead mark in Ezekiel 9 was a cross, and it marked them as belonging to the Most High God. Sound familiar?
So I applaud those joyously wore their ashen crosses. We SHOULD be joyful. This mark is the mark of salvation... the mark of mercy.
For, indeed, ours is a Merciful God.
I'll be honest - this entry took a really, really long time for me to work through. My wonderful friend, Catherine, sent me a booklet from her office down at the Diocese of Wichita, several months after I miscarried Myla. Seeing that there was some sort of liturgical celebration that could mark Myla's brief life was... honestly, I'm still at a loss as to how awed I was that something like this existed. What a comfort this can be to parents! What a blessed tool to be utilized by priests/deacons who want to reach out to grieving families! My heart came close to exploding with gratitude and joy at the possibilities.
I wanted to blog about this Order right away. After all, EVERYONE should know all about it! This was developed by the Respect Life and Social Justice Office of the Diocese of Wichita, and I still believe it needs to be spread far and wide to all ends of the Church. So to Bonnie Toombs (who obviously dedicated so much time and research into getting this Order so perfect) and to Kellee Kruse (who worked on making this booklet something beautiful for parents to physically hold on to), I extend my deepest appreciation. I do not know either of you personally, but I can see the light of Christ shine through your work, and I am humbled and deeply affected by it. Bless you.
So why did it take me so long to post praise on a booklet I obviously have such respect and appreciation for?
Because I didn't know where to start. In truth, I was afraid to open the booklet when I first got it because I wasn't sure how I'd handle my grief (ever creeping just below the surface). I'm glad I finally peered inside, though, because the very first page is something akin to a Baptismal Certificate. You can't tell from the PDF below, but there is a perforated "certificate" called a Remembrance of Commendation. There is a place to write your child's name, the parents' name, and a date of Commendation. Beautifully, there is also a line for a witness (likely the minister) who can again validate the life of that child.
Isn't it strange that I was touched most by that line? To name a child and to have a minister witness the recognition of life... I'm so glad that was put there. It is such a beautiful validation.
The introduction explains the purpose of the order and the need for such an order in today's world.
From there, all of the rites are so perfectly worded that I get all teary just thinking about them. God is spoken of so lovingly that you can't help but feel both joyed and grateful that such a loving Father has sought to gather these little ones to Himself. Gratitude for the gift of life and gratitude for His mercy is laced all throughout these pages.
So I'm leaving it here for you to see. I've already submitted a copy to my pastor with the request that he consider its use. It's just so beautiful. Even the suggested songs at the end are wonderful. The booklet that I had used a linen cover stock for the first two "pages" and then a creme text stock for the rest. This format ensured that the cover and perforated "Remembrance" cards were of stronger materials (since the latter can be a keepsake).
I've also included the PDF in a downloadable file if you'd like to just e-mail a copy to your pastor (since the embedded plug-in can be hit-or-miss.
Please share this with your prayer groups and parish families. I honestly believe it has such wonderful potential to help heal the wounds left by miscarriage and infant loss.
Also, feel free to pin this to Pinterest. I knew how to do that at one point, but it's been a while, so I've forgotten. But if you remember, by all means, pin away!
I have a Protestant friend who routinely tries to poke holes into my Catholic ideology. He is very good-natured about the whole thing. Though we both joke about converting each other, it's obvious that we're both passionate about our faith.
He asked me (challenged me, really) why Catholics believe that faith in Christ alone is not enough to assure Heaven. After all, John 3:16 clearly states as much, right?
This is apparently a huge sticking point for many Protestants. They think that Catholics don't understand Christ's power as "good/strong enough."
Unsure of how to best respond, the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor came to mind (thanks, Holy Spirit!). In this parable, a servant is brought before the king to pay his giant debt. The servant cannot pay the debt, so the king demands justice through the sale of the servant and the servant's family. Dropping to his knees in humility, the servant begs for mercy and the gracious king forgives the debt.
Two seconds later, the recently forgiven servant demands recompense for a paltry sum and, when his fellow servant is unable to pay, has that man thrown into jail. When the king hears of this hypocrisy, he has the first servant (whom he had freely shown mercy to) thrown into jail to be tortured as punishment.
Why would this parable come to mind as a response?
Well, the Christian (represented by the servant) had faith in God (represented by the king). That faith most certainly saved him, and it was a gift given not because the servant was worthy of it, but because God was/is merciful. However, the Christian failed to follow through with good works and, as a result, felt the justice of God. Mercy and justice go hand-in-hand. One cannot exist without the other.
So of course faith can do a great many things, but from that faith must also come works that are the FRUIT of that faith. God gives us mercy so that we have mercy to extend to others. God loves us so that we might love others. God gifts us joy and peace so that we can spread those gifts to others.
Hence why us Catholics believe that a faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
Works must prove faith. Faith comes first (which extends God's mercy), but that faith in Christ means nothing if one does not conform to the teachings of Christ.
He's still chewing on that. *Grin* In truth, I guess I am, too, as I hadn't thought of this parable much at all in the past.
I've been putting off this project forever (okay, about 8 months). Ever since coming back from Mexico, I'd been dying to try out something I'd seen down there in the kiosks. Since my husband is able to create steel dies that cut wood, I asked for his help in putting into wood what I'd envisioned in my head. He obliged.
I finally got around to painting it tonight. Can you guess what (or who) it is?
Since this was only a test piece, scrap wood was used. However, even being scrap wood, the puzzle pieces came out just as I wanted them to! Each piece is 3/4" thick, so they're super durable. Vince has already chucked pieces across the room for kicks and nothing split or cracked (aside from the slight crack that was there to begin with). I though that was a good sign, especially since we'd only used scrap wood!!!
For reference, this is what 3/4" of an inch looks like:
Anyhow, the naked pieces have been sitting on my counter just waiting for me to pick out the perfect colors. I finally did so tonight because with the oncoming snow, I figured a crafty activity would keep me occupied. Here I am about halfway through the process:
To get some of the colors juuuuuust right, I got to try my hand at mixing. I wanted a subtle rosy pink for the cheeks, but the red I had was too dark and the white didn't help, so I added yellow and got precisely what I wanted. I felt all sorts of artsy!
I must've painted each piece about five or six times. Wood absorbs paint like you wouldn't believe, and I wanted certain colors to REALLY stand out (like that gorgeous cobalt blue).
Besides, I don't mind if things take longer to do if they come out looking nice in the end.
The halo might've been one of the more time consuming parts of the project because wanted to use special metallic paint to highlight some of the rays. To ensure I didn't make a total mess of things, I taped off lines for myself:
It definitely looked a bit silly at the time, but I was so happy with the way it turned out.
Definitely worth the agita of fighting the tape.
All in all, it took me about an hour and a half to paint everything. I used a hair dryer at some points to help the paint dry faster (so I could paint facial features, for example). Otherwise, I just spent my time sanding, painting, painting some more, and taping off things here or there.
I used a different brush for each color because I didn't want anything getting mixed that I wasn't mixing on purpose, ya know? The sponge tipped brushes worked best on the wood to give it a smooth, even coat. The fine-tipped brushes were perfect for the details. I'm really happy with how the final project turned out. Have you guessed who I was painting?
I haven't sealed it yet, but that's because I want to wait overnight to let everything really dry thoroughly.
Now that I know I can actually paint these pieces and have them look like a cute facsimile of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I'm going to have John make me a few more using non-scrap wood. He'd know the best kind of wood for a project like this, so I'll defer to him, but I wanted to share with you folks because I'm just so pleased with how she turned out.
I'm contemplating painting other versions since this is such a basic design. Suggestions? Thoughts?
I'm also thinking about coming up with other designs - specifically ones that involve the Holy Family. I've always liked those Holy Family images with St. Joseph basically encompassing Our Lady as she cradles the Infant Jesus in her arms... something like that.
So, that was my craft tonight. Any ideas on which version of Our Lady I should try next? I'm very open to suggestions!
Vince had a rough day at school yesterday. As a result, he was punished by not getting a story before bed. That's the deal. That's always been the deal. He's always known this was the deal.
That doesn't stop him from complaining and whining and trying to weasel his way into getting a story before bed, though.
So after his bath, the whining started. "But Mommy, I'm really sorry. I've been really good tonight, right? I'll be good tomorrow, too!"
"Vincent, you didn't listen at school. If you don't listen in school, you don't get a bedtime story. You know that."
"But I've been good all night!"
I started getting annoyed, but as usual, a quick tap on the shoulder reminded me I sometimes sound an awful lot like that.
How many times have I pushed off prayer or good deeds or something because I could "get it all in" later? Heck, all throughout college, I figured I didn't even need to go to Mass or anything because I'd eventually become one of those little old ladies stooped over in Church after the "good part of life" was behind me.
I need to be CONSISTENTLY GOOD. I can't just rack up points "at the end" because, in truth, no one knows when the end is. God doesn't ask us to listen to him "at the end." He asks us to listen to Him always.
Just some food for thought I ended up chewing on.
About a week ago, I watched a documentary about the Vatican. Originally, I thought I was sitting down to watch a special on art at the Vatican. I didn't realize I was about to embark on a much different special.
As it turns out...
So instead of enjoying an eyeful of incredible Renaissance art, iconography and history, I was doused with the cold reality of the underbelly of the Vatican's dealings with pedophilia, homosexuality, and politics.
In truth, it only took me a few minutes to realize I'd made a mistake, but I figured I may as well take what I could from it since the other documentary wasn't on Netflix.
This Frontline documentary was a narrative of those in our Church hierarchy who have actively worked to cover abuse, grab political power, or utilize their prominence for activities that would shame Nancy Pelosi.
Anyway, this was basically one long description of the worst of the worst in our hierarchy.
Heaven help us, we certainly have our fair share of sinners. This piece certainly highlights that. However, the documentary also highlighted a bit of dogma I suspect its editors would blush to admit shines through the filth.
You see, even though the interviews, video clips, presented documents and other evidence stack squarely against the virtue of the Church (for good reason in some cases), the documentary acknowledges that the last few popes (in truth, all of them) have not come from the same mold as those railed against in the film.
In fact, it almost seems as if our pontiffs have been antithetical to those who hide in the shadows of our Church looking to grab power that doesn't belong to them.
Of course, that is how it should be. Christ promised that He would not abandon His Church. He would not allow the gates of Hell to prevail against Her. He would not allow His cornerstone to fail. Thus, He sent His Spirit to protect and guide the Chair of Peter, and there the Spirit has remained, actively frustrating those who would see the corruption and fall of the Church.
Over and over this became apparent as the documentary led deeper and deeper into the embarrassing shame some of priests harbor. I took this as a reminder of how necessary it is for us to pray for our priests. Oh, pray for them! They need our prayers!
So, too, do the victims of our Church. While it's true we have helped so many, we can't let ourselves think that somehow makes up for the souls we've hurt through our own sin.
I ended up getting so upset by the end of the documentary that the only solace I had was the fact that Christ had so obviously not abandoned us to ourselves. The Holy Spirit was and is still very active in our Church, and no matter how hard this documentary tried to hide that, the Light of Christ shone through. I imagine the editors would blush to realize that was the end result of their video. So yes, while they acknowledged the sinfulness and vulnerability of some of our hierarchy, they also upheld dogma and highlighted the support of Christ through His Spirit and the special protection the Chair of St. Peter has. They don't chant "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" for nothing during those Papal conclaves, folks!
When I explained to John why I was so emotional at the end of the video, even he reflected for a minute with a "Hmmm... interesting."
Happy New Year, folks!
On Monday, I went to my 12 week appointment. It was the first time I was able to hear my baby's heartbeat. I'd seen it flickering on the ultrasound monitor, but Monday was the first time I heard that blessed noise. In truth, the fear of miscarriage has always been something I struggled with, but with this pregnancy, I truly believe everything will be okay. With the amount of Divine Providence I've seen at work, I have faith that He has every intention of seeing this child in my arms.
I tremble at the thought sometimes, because I can't help but feel I'm not worthy of such a gift. But again, gifts are not given because one deserves them. Gifts are given because the giver (in this case, THE Giver) wills that they be given. So I am trying my best to accept every aspect of this gift (nausea and back-pain included).
However, there is always that moment as the doctor presses the doppler to my tummy that all the universe seems to hold its breath with me. I try so hard to block out the buzz of florescent lights, the thunder of my bated heart, and the frigid gel that causes a shock of goosebumps to scream along my arms and neck. I try to block out those sensations because I vainly want to hear the whir of life within me. As she presses the doppler further into my abdomen, fear inevitably tries to smother my anticipatory joy.
There will be no heartbeat. God realized His mistake and took this one to Heaven, too.
Shut up, fear. Shut up.
She's pressing further because she can't hear anything. There is nothing to hear. You'll have to tell everyone what a terrible mistake you made in sharing the news. You've failed again.
Shut up, fear! SHUT UP!
She's moving the doppler side to side. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. You --
*Heartbeat - glorious heartbeat*
And the fear flees as fear always does in the face of Truth.
My abdomen pulsed as I tried not to cry out my emotion. My doctor kindly pretended not to notice, as I'm sure she does every time a new mother reclaims her breath.
That 15 seconds was the first of many, many more. There will always be fear. Vince is 5 years old, and not a day goes by where I don't struggle against the fear that I'm not doing enough, educating him enough, BEING enough for him. I have no doubt that will extend forever and always until - together - we all enjoy Heaven.
Myla is the only one I do not fear for as I know she has beaten us there.
And that's okay. As a parent, it's part of the deal. :)
This is a photo of my mother and I. It was taken the day of Vincent's birthday party which was September 20th.
This is a photo taken by my buddy, Deanna, when we took our kids to the Children's Garden. Note my still sorta flat belly (gotta look
above the belt line under the tank top). This was a just before Halloween in October.
Now here we are at 11 weeks. What the flippin' heck, baby?!
I mean, I wasn't even this big with Vincent at 17 weeks:
So wow. If this is where I'm at before I'm even out of the first trimester, I'm assuming I'll look something like this by the time labor rolls around:
Bonus points if you get this horrible reference.
On second thought, if you get this horrible reference, you should have points revoked, but I digress.
I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm still beyond thrilled that I have a little miracle growing within me. I am keenly aware that not everyone is as lucky as I am in this regard, and my heart aches for them. However, I would be lying if I wasn't a twinge worried about giving birth to an even larger baby than Vince (who at 9 lbs was pretty dang big!). Regardless, I thought it was amazing how quickly my body jumped on board this time around. I know with subsequent pregnancies you show sooner, but I wasn't expecting this. LoL!
I'm incredibly disheartened and overwhelmed right now.
My husband wants to move our family to a new district this spring which means I've had to research all new options for Vincent's education (I do NOT want to move, but it's his call, not mine). Vince has done so well in Kindergarten this year that we are planning to try him in 1st grade; however, I fully understand that 1st grade is going to be significantly more structured than Kindergarten. It's also going to be a big jump because instead of being one of eight, he'll be one of 20.
Owning to his Sensory Processing Disorder, larger class-sizes are overwhelming to him due to the increase in visual / auditory stimulation. It was why he had such major melt-downs last year when we attempted to place him in several mainstream Pre-K classes. Intellectually, he can handle the material; behaviorally, he has difficulty keeping himself in check when so many things are vying for his attention.
As such, I checked out the school district we'd be moving to. Given the giant increase in taxes we'll be paying, I expected the school system to be top-ranked. Imagine my surprise when these schools couldn't even muster more than a C average.
I was sickened. My husband, who grew up in that area, seemed unconcerned. I was flabbergasted. If we're expected to pay 5 figures for taxes each year (FIVE FIGURES!), I expect to see that reflected in top-notch schooling. The fact that not one - NOT ONE - could muster more than a "C" average makes me believe that property taxes in that area are not being spent properly. It also makes me not to want move there.
But since it is my husband's decision, we will be moving there anyway, and I'm left to figure out how to make up for an objectively horrible (and obviously corrupt) district. Even the private schools are terrible.
So I've been doing my best trying to research as much as possible. I've found an average Catholic school that seems to fair much better than any of its counterparts, but since it is a private school, there isn't much in the way of supplemental aid (which again just makes me annoyed that my property taxes can't go to fund the school that my son will benefit from).
I contacted the special education program coordinator that oversees supplemental aid for private schools and she informed me that they would likely not have financial assistance available to pay for the Occupational Therapist my son would need because he'd be in the Catholic school system. If I were to pull him from the Catholic school, however, she would be able to "squeeze him in somewhere."
Believe it or not, America, there is still such a thing as school choice. Their fear-mongering just made me superbly angry. How dare they tell me that just because I wanted my son to attend a Catholic school they couldn't afford to send an OT to him? That I should seriously consider enrolling him in one of their terribly ranked schools?! Ew. No thank you.
I'm just so upset / angry / disgruntled.
I know there are those of you who are still pulling for me to homeschool, but I'm still not certain that's the best option.
However, it's also NOT an option for us to place him into a sub-par school just so we can get him a bit of OT when a good Catholic school can provide that for him as well.
Argh. Sorry... this entire post was one huge vent. It's precisely why I haven't blogged consistently the last few weeks. I've been wading through all this research and back and forth with schools that I just feel depleted.
Ya know what, though? I need to keep reminding myself that God has provided thus far and will continue to do so. He made sure we had safety nets when things didn't work out each and every time a bump in the road knocked us off-track, so I'm sure He's got something in mind for Vince.
Many of us take part in the Catholic tradition of picking a patron saint for the year. Some of us even use the lovely Jen Fulwiler's' Saint Generator to do it!
I typically choose a saint along with my Religious Education students on the first day back from Christmas break. For 2014, however, I did not do that. This year, God had a specific patron in mind for me, and it took me until this week to finally appreciate the wisdom of His choice.
As I wrote back in January, a friend sent me a St. Philomena prayer card out of the blue. Just that weekend, I'd laughed at the idea of St. Philomena being my patron because I couldn't fathom why God would stick the poor girl with the likes of me. However, getting that card made me realize that was precisely who God sent for me.
So here I am in December - almost a full year later. I've kept her card and medal next to my computer this whole time, still not completely sure why God would choose to have this sweet, chaste young girl for my intercessor.
Some of you are aware that I have my Religious Education students give oral reports on their patron saints. I have them choose patrons for each semester, and their projects were due this past Tuesday.
One of them had chosen St. Philomena.
Now I know the story of St. Philomena pretty well, but for some odd reason, I never knew what she was considered the patroness of. As part of her report, my student explained to the class who she was partial to.
Does anyone here want to take a guess what my dear Saint Philomena is patroness of?
Patroness of the Youth with predilection for babies and children.
Protectress of young married couples, many times giving the joys of motherhood.
Assists and protects expectant mothers.
Comfront of the afflicted and imprisoned.
The solace of the suffering and sick.
Consoler of afflicted mothers who invoke her for material or spiritual help for their children.
Great helper of students and those who sit for examinations.
When invoked she encourages many conversions.
Conversion of sinners and return to the sacraments.
Assists priests in their work.
For all Spiritual and temporal problems.
There is no case too trivial or unimportant to concern her.
She exhibits her greatest patronage towards her devotees by leading them to the love of Our Lord and Our Lady.
Patroness of the Living Rosary.
Protectoress of the Children of Mary.
My dear readers, I have a miracle to share with you.
That's right, I said I've got a MIRACLE, and I've been dying to tell you all since my husband sat me down in September to share it with me.
John, my agnostic, no-more-babies-ever-again husband sat me down and said (completely of his own volition), "I want to have another baby. We can start trying in January."
*Cue waterfall of tears, screaming, psalms of thanksgiving and more tears.*
In all honesty, when he said that to me, I immediately started sobbing. Thank God I was already sitting on the floor, because had I not been, I'd've quickly fallen there.
I covered my face and my whole body shook with emotion. John knelt down next to me and said, "I thought you'd be happy!"
My God... happy?! HAPPY???
Happy was the absolute least of what I was feeling at that moment, but there was no way for me to communicate that to him. So I just shook my head, bowed it further, and unleashed my heart in soundless psalms of awe, jubilation and thanksgiving. Before I could physically speak to my husband, I spoke to God who had so mercifully melted his heart. I said a prayer to Myla, because I know she prayed on her Daddy's behalf.
After several minutes of this, I finally lifted my head and kissed that of my husband's, who was now sitting patiently next to me waiting for my emotions to settle. I said, "You have no idea what this means to me. Thank you. I love you so much. Even if we don't get pregnant, you just being open to another child means SO MUCH."
Then, in true John fashion, he asked, "Can we raise this one atheist?"
For a split second, I saw the gift I'd just been granted get crushed.
Still crying I said, "No, John. I'll raise any and all children Catholic."
I then braced for him to retract his decision for another child. However, he signed in resignation, laid his head against me and simply said, "You know I had to try."
Folks, when I tell you I spent the next few days in a complete euphoria, that is an understatement to end all understatements. It was as if God, Himself, had come down to tell me I was already pregnant and would be giving birth to a perfect little cherub tomorrow. I'm not even kidding. I absolutely couldn't wait for January to roll around, so I started peppering John with images of us telling his father at Christmas.
So we went ahead and started trying.
I'm now 7 weeks pregnant!!!
So by all means, please scream with me!
And offer a million prayers of thanks to God on our behalf for such an incredible grace!!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the prayers, love and support. You're the best!!!
I "like" the Huffington Post's parenting section on Facebook. A cringe-inducing header led me to comment on a particular piece that ended up garnering top comment honors. See below:
As you can see, there were 26 comments as of posting this. A good majority of them are nothing more than vitriol directed at me for not joining in the hero-worship of yet another parent who wants to pat herself on the back for whatever the heck this is supposed to be.
And really - what exactly is this supposed to be?
As I said back in March, I'm so sick of these stories. And given the fact that I'm the top comment, I'm not the only one. We are a minority, but we're a minority that stubbornly refuses to go away.
We are a stubborn minority that refuses to enable our children to navigate an already confusing, misshapen world by promoting MORE confusion and celebrating the deviance from basic, unalterable facts about themselves. For as much as the liberal world likes to make fun of Catholicism for not caring about science (read: blatant ignorance), these same folks love to throw science out the window when it comes to sex and gender.
This has nothing to do with boys wanting to play with dolls or girls wanting to drive a race car. This has everything to do with the concerted effort of a very liberal media working towards a genderless, sexless utopia in which traditional families are trampled so that the morals and dignity reflected by our very existence no longer call them to better.
The traditional family might not be a perfect reflection, but we're not called to be exactly perfect. We are, however, called to be reflections of He who created us, and we're called to teach our children to be reflections of He who created us. No matter how much folks try to ignore this, hide this, or confuse this reality, there will always be those of us who stand in staunch defense of that which we are blessed to know: We are created in the image and likeness of God.
We all know that Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday.
And we know He went ahead and made Confirmation vogue a month and a half later at Pentecost.
However, ya know what else Christ instituted on Holy Thursday?
Holy Orders. And He did it by washing the feet of His apostles one by one and charging them with serving others with the same humble abandon that He exemplifed whilst on His Divine Knees, doing the reviled work of the lowest of slaves.
So my question is this:
Did the Apostles receive Holy Orders before they were confirmed?
Special thanks to my coworker, Russ, for choosing the names like a champ!
Congrats to the winners:
Ladies, you'll be receiving an e-mail from me shortly if you haven't gotten one already. Thanks to all who participated!
Stay tuned for an upcoming Christmas giveaway that I'm hoping to have posted by the end of this week. Yes, a veil will be included in the giveaway, so you've got another chance coming!
Friend: Where's the Indian [food]?
Me: I ate it.
Friend: All of it?
Me: It's gone, man.
Friend: That's why your fortune cookies tell you you're fat.
True story! *Giggle*
How many of you are aware of / taking part in
Wear a Veil to Mass Day on December 8th?
It's starting to gain traction on my newsfeed where it's mostly been puttering along. I'm glad to see the trend starting to blossom.
For those of you unfamiliar, the idea is as simple as it sounds. We are calling on women to don the veil for one day - the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - in order to raise awareness for this traditional (and oft-neglected) sacramental.
Yes! Sacramental! The chapel veil is an outward sign of an inward faith. Since women personify the sacred vocation of Mother Church as Bride to Christ, each time we wear a veil we act as living iconography. It's not a way for us to seem holier than the rest of the congregation; it's a way for us to embrace the place God created for us and the unique roles we play in His Family.
With that being said, how many of you are taking part? How many of you are discerning the call to veil?
I'd like to help you along. You guys know I've got a ton of veils (infinity, mantilla, tie-back, etc). I want to give three away to you!
To participate, leave a comment below stating your feelings on the veil and why you'd like to win one! I'd love to hear from folks who already veil. Leave your testimony as to how veiling has enriched your spiritual lives!
I will randomly select 3 winners on Sunday!
**Please note that this contest is over. I'll post the winners shortly!**
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