Opposition to the Mandate
Click the pic for the link to FB
So I came across this on my Facebook page through several Catholic friends of mine. The newsfeed was buzzing with this picture, so I followed a link to the page that originated it.
Considering that I, too, am appalled by this ridiculous mandate, I willingly reposted my support of the opposition to my page.
In the past, I've used Facebook as a means to inform folks about everything from politics and social issues to zombie make-up and adorable kittens. As my husband became increasingly embarrassed by my outspoken tirades (usually of the political / religious variety), I had agreed to abdicate my "soapbox" (his words, not mine) in order to make him feel less embarrassed by his outspoken and passionate wife.
However, with the advent of this threat against the faith that I hold dear, I reasserted my rightful place as Newsfeed Nancy, willfully blasting my opinion to anyone who would hear me. A few friends commented, a few more messaged me, and one actually left a nasty note on my wall that I had to delete (my mother, nephew or young cousins could've seen it - eeps!).
Anyway, the prevailing consensus with these comments (both in the thread and the messages sent to my inbox) was that this wasn't a big deal and the government wasn't actually trying to force anything on anyone. Catholics could simply "not take advantage" of birth control and all would be well.
It would force the Church to pay for the option... it's akin to forcing us to buy a gun for someone we know aims to kill a child. After all, the Church doesn't only hire practicing Catholics.
Besides, this is about forcing us to participate in something that goes against everything we teach. This isn't as simple as just "preaching against" birth control or suggesting folks not "take advantage."
We'd still be footing the bill for abortions (abortifacients). That is against the Catholic faith, and to be forced by a government into abiding by such a thing is against the 1st Amendment.
Much as in other countries, it would force Catholic institutions to shutter as opposed to stoop so low as to adhere to this grave offense.
My belief is that is part of our government's intent, anyway. They were successful with Catholic adoption agencies that refused to cater to homosexuals, in Germany with the entire Church for refusing to marry homosexuals, and now they're attempting it here through subversive laws that aim to cripple our institution in the eyes of everyone else who doesn't seem to think there's anything even remotely wrong with their actions.
_"It's not a big deal" they say. "It's just birth control" they say. Yeah, and already look at the wide-reaching consequences of this being "not a big deal." And if they're willing to start with an issue "so small" that reaches its tentacles out so far, what next? I shudder to think of the rights they are eying to siphon from us next...
And again, by "us" I don't simply mean Catholics. I mean anyone with the intelligence and decency to realize we're being quietly bent over a barrel to feel the steel end of someone's rifle up our behinds...
And again, the Catholic Church doesn't only cater to Catholics - they serve non-Catholics, too... and as the Catholic institutions shutter as they refuse to be a party to this nonsense, there are going to be a ton of people who lose their jobs and even more people who go without healthcare / education / work that they would otherwise have access to.
If Obama had stuck by his promise to allow religious institutions a pass on paying for this stuff, I wouldn't be opening my mouth against him. But since he went back on his word, and is now opening the door to all sorts of persecution against us for simply living our faith and not expecting to pay for things that go directly against it... he should be absolutely ashamed of himself. This goes against the 1st Amendment... DIRECTLY. Shameful.
PP's Asnine "Celebration"
Well, at least they're showing just how asnine they really are. I love how they label those of us who disagree with their agenda "anti-women's health groups." What a load of BS there. Pregnancy isn't an illness, though it's interesting to note that most BC actually causes illness... including the Pill.
But hey - admitting that would defeat their entire thrust to make money off the uneducated (or willfully ignorant).
Best Pope John Paul II Story EVER!
Okay, so I was listening to the tail-end of that CD I mentioned earlier when I caught a snippet of Dr. Scott Hahn's talk on Confession. In this brief teaser for that CD, I heard the most moving, amazing, awesome story about Pope John Paul II ever. I was almost moved to tears!
Here it is, transcribed for your benefit. May your heart sing just as joyously as mine with gratitude for so holy and wise a leader. Our God certainly knows how to pick them, and our saintly Pope John Paul II will certainly be remembered as "the Great."
I did some research into this story. I'm still waiting to hear back from St. Mary's Basilica in Rome, but I think the "Fr. Jim" from the story would likely be there if this story proves true. I can't imagine Scott Hahn lying, but the fact that no names are given for the Spiritual Director / priest kinda gives the journalist in me the "dig a little deeper" vibe. Until I'm proven otherwise, though, I'll promote this story as a beautiful testament to the pious, holy character of our late, great pontiff.
Young John the Baptist
I received a wonderful CD from Lighthouse Media this week. It's a talk given about the Humanity / Divinity of Jesus, and I apologize for not remembering the title or speaker at present. The disk is in my car, and it's simply too cold for me to run out in my jammies to get it. :)
Anyway, the priest asked a question of the audience: Why was John the Baptist running around the wilderness, anyway? Why wasn't he at home or preaching in the middle of Jerusalem. His father, Zachariah, was a priest of the Temple, so it would've made sense for little John to have followed suit and made himself at home preaching to Jews in Jerusalem.
The priest answered that John was preaching in the wilderness due to the corruption of the Temple.
That is probably true, but it glosses over a HUGE reason of how little John found himself in the wilderness in the first place...
Everyone seems to forget that John the Baptist was only a few months older than his cousin, Jesus. The Blessed Mother visted Elizabeth, John's mother, when she, herself, was pregnant with Christ. That puts John about 4-6 months ahead of Jesus.
Anyway, if the Holy Family had to high-tail it away from Herod due to his desire to kill all young boys from birth to age 2, little John would've been a prime target, especially since he resided so close to Jerusalem (what with Daddy being a priest and all). As a result, little John was taken by his mother, St. Elizabeth, to the wilderness where she stayed with him until it was safe to return home.
However, the fact that little John escaped from the slaughter made many people very suspicious. Folks were angry and jealous that Zachariah had somehow managed to keep his son alive while theirs were cruelly murdered. They constantly would've been asking him "Where is little John? Where is that son of yours, Zachariah?" Off little John would've been sent to the caves once more to hide away until the anger passed.
John the Baptist was made quite at home in the wilderness in his early years. As Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich wrote of him, nature was his school house. The birds, flowers, elements and grasses were God's own alphabet, and little John was a quick study. He was well acquainted with his guardian angel who was sure to teach him the finer points of what would soon become his Advent message.
So yes... while there was plenty of corruption within the Temple at the time of John's preaching, that was not "why he was in the wilderness." He was in the wilderness because from a very, VERY early age, he was forced to find refuge in the wild - away from hateful eyes, vice-filled souls, and yes, the corrupt teachings of the Temple.
Conversation with Jesus
I love this little image of Jesus. I imagine He's at St. Joseph's workbench, as you can just make out two carpentry nails forming a cross beyond His clasped Hands.
He's looking up in prayer, and one can only wonder what interior dialogue He's having with His Father.
When I finally got onto my knees in prayer - for the first time in what seems like forever - I felt very much the same. I was just looking up at God the Father and speaking to Him without words (since my mouth was bound shut anyway).
I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet silently and realized that in praying each bead silently, I focused more on the words. Don't get me wrong - my mind still wandered to everything from Vincent to why Lucy (my cat) chose that particular moment to whip her tail in my face - but I definitely focused more on what I was "saying" without actually uttering anything.
There's something to be said for silence, after all... :)
Of Being Drunk (or High?)
So I visited the dentist on both the 25th and the 26th. The 25th was exactly what I had feared it to be. I was given another dry socket in an attempt to drain whatever infection had ravaged my cheek. The whole process took about an hour, and I once again left the office a crying mess.
The night of the 25th I was in so much pain that I ended up taking 3 percosets. Part of me worried about an overdose, but the other part of me was so knotted up in pain that I didn't care. Besides, considering how clean-cut I've always been, I doubted a 3rd pill would do much to tempt me into a prescription drug addiction.
I think that 3rd pill brought me as close as I'll ever get to being drunk. I did NOT like that feeling at all. Everything felt incredibly slow and wobbly, and I was an emotional wreck. That being said, I was completely in my mind and fully recall everything that happened. I was even aware of my slurred speech and that I was repeating things or stalling on a story because the words took so long getting from my brain to my tongue. I didn't feel pain, though!
I called Mary to come down as I'd been having a really tough time of it. My constant trips back and forth to the doctor were wearing on John as he's also been busy with work, Vince and films. I hate that feeling of helplessness. I wasn't able to drive anywhere, and I certainly didn't trust myself to watch over Vincent (God forbid I try to hold him and drop him, or fall asleep or any other number of things). The sitter was able to come to watch him that night, so that was a relief.
However, I was incredulous at my inability to sleep. Even having taken the three pills, not having slept the night before due to anxiety, and the lack of strength from not eating properly in a week... even with all that going on, I could not sleep. So it was good of Mary to come and let me vent all my frustrations to her. I drank some soup with her and felt better as the effects of the drugs wore off. Even though my face was beginning to hurt again, I was relieved that I wasn't so "foggy."
I cannot figure out why people would willingly do that to themselves through either alcohol or medicine. I hated that feeling... even being in an aware state! To slip further into an unconscious state where you can't be held accountable for your actions / speech... and for what? The "buzz" of feeling like you're stuck in a bowl of jello - everything around you slightly blurry from the wobble of your surroundings?
Shoot - I will never understand that.
Anyway, when I went back today, I was told the large lump on the side of my face was an infected hematoma that will likely take several weeks to "dissolve" on its own. I get to continue taking the antibiotics (which, BTW, are a huge pain in the butt as I need to take them six hours apart, meaning I inevitably miss the dose I need around 2 or 3 in the morning), but I probably won't need nearly as much pain medicine as they'll leave my teeth (and sockets) alone for a while. Progress!
Maybe I can start working on building back those 6 lbs I lost this week... LoL.
Flowers for Our Lady @ Weddings?
Photo of my silk-bouquets!
Father Z had an interesting post today that got the cogs in my little brain churning today.
Someone had asked him about the tradition of giving the Blessed Mother a bouquet of flowers during a wedding ceremony / Mass.
He basically answered, "I have no idea how it started, but since it's not in the rubrics, it shouldn't be done during a Nuptial Mass."
I'm neither here nor there with his answer, especially since he opened the combox for others to chime in since he wasn't sure of these traditions. I'd say that's fair.
However, I'd have to say I disagree with his assessment that it "shouldn't be done" at the Mass. As many of the commentators posted, this could easily be something as simple as a bride wishing to pray before a saint after Communion. So what if instead of just prayer offerings, she's got a little fistful of flowers?
For my own wedding, this was my most cherished moment. Considering I had planned my whole wedding around the Blessed Mother (month of May, my colors were "Blessed Mother Blue" and I got married at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, etc, etc, etc), I wanted to be SURE to pay her this respect during the Ave Maria reflection after Communion.
I know - 110% KNOW - she interceded for John and I. I know it. She's still doing it. So when I got down on my knees before her with my bouquet of flowers (the only real ones I used the entire day as my sister is allergic to them), I sobbed like a little baby in gratitude. It was the only time I cried that whole day. I was so elated, so thankful, so touched by her maternal love that I couldn't contain myself and needed SOME way to express my gratitude. My flowers, prayers, and tears were all I had to offer. I also entrusted my marriage to her then, too.
So there is, in my opinion, a beauty to that gesture. I can't speak for other brides, but that moment wasn't about me - it was about Our Lady and the knowledge that she interceded for our marriage at the Throne of God before we had even met. I really do believe that.
***BTW, I'd love to claim that I created those gorgeous bouquets, but I did not. My best friend, Mary, and her mother spent hours hand-crafting those beauties. They're silk flowers, believe it or not, because my one sister is allergic to the real thing! So they created 7 smaller bouquets, my larger, cascading one, 10+ boutineers, several corsages, and probably several pew arrangements, too!***
Color Me Scared - and Doped Up
Got any room under that paper for me?
It's just after midnight and I can't sleep. I have no idea why. I've taken the full dose of percoset, the ibuprofen, and the two little antibiotic pill thingies. I can definitely feel myself in a half "Am I really here, or am I just imagining myself doing this" state.
But I still can't sleep.
I've gotta go to the dentist later on today, and I am absolutely scared out of my mind.
I still have this huge lump on my face that's been drained twice now. Though my eye and neck have gotten better, this lump in my cheek will simply not quit, and I'm terrified they're going to open the other tooth on this side of my face in order to try again.
I don't know if I'm cold, anxious, or fighting off the effects of the medicine, but I cannot stop shaking right now!
Ugh - I went and pulled a Mary (I'm blaming this on you, Mar, simply because it makes me feel better... lol). I looked up "cheek abscess" on Youtube and got exactly what I was looking for. Since this particular problem still hasn't gone away, I can't imagine what else it could be. There's always MRSA. But this abscess scenario is a lot more likely which means they're probably going to have to give me another dry socket in order to help alleviate the infection. Either that, or they'll simply cut open my face and allow it to drain that way.
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I am so freaking out right now!
With all the times I've been to the doctor for fun stuff like spinal headaches, kidney stones, or even child-birth, I was never really nervous. I just wanted to get whatever the necessary procedures were done and over with as quickly as possible. There were no nerves. Just the calm understanding that these things were important and conducive to my overall well-being.
Even understanding that these things might very well be necessary, and obviously good for my overall health, I am STILL freaking out. Dental procedures just have that effect!
When I was about... I guess about 7ish? Yeah, let's go with seven. My brother knocked out part of my front tooth. My mom took me to a dentist to get it capped. It was a horrific experience. He was super mean, I felt like I was suffocating the whole time, he was obviously annoyed at my attempts to breathe, and everything he did hurt.
When my cap eventually fell off, I refused to go back. I endured some pretty creative taunting as a result of my chipped tooth, but I would much rather be the loser with the chipped tooth than endure another stint in the dentist's chair. I fought against my mother any time I even sniffed at the thought she might take me to the dentist.
As a result, I never stepped foot in another dentist's office until two days before my wedding. I finally caved and got the dang tooth fixed - but that was it. That deep-rooted fear of dentists was too cemented for me to do more than what was absolutely necessary. Having that tooth fixed for wedding pictures seemed like something I could sacrifice for John.
Now here I am - almost five years after that wedding day, and I've been forced to see a dentist because of these stupid, stupid wisdom teeth. I was hoping this would be a quick in-and-out procedure since most of my other friends assured me that'd be the case. But no... it's like Fate turned out to be a Dentist and he's getting me back for all those years I hid away from him. Now I've been found out, and he's not letting me get away from him without a fight.
I am honestly, honestly petrified of what they're going to do to me tomorrow. How stupid is this? I realize I'm insane right now - I'd like to blame the meds, but I was like this before I even took them. I've tried praying on it... even attempted to say, "Hey God, feel free to take this psychotic fear as some sort of offering." Nothing is helping, though. I just want to curl into a ball and cry because I know that no matter what, I'm going to be strapped into a dentist's chair at some point this afternoon, and that's the last place in the universe I ever want to be.
John thinks I'm out of my mind. He has every right. Most people probably think I am. Folks have said that I'm blowing things out of proportion, or that I'm looking to solicit sympathy for all that's been going on.
Sympathy does nothing to get me out of a dentist's chair, and it certainly doesn't help once I'm in one. John, however, is right. I am probably out of my mind, but I accept that on this one. I don't fear heights, rats, the streets of Philadelphia or even chasing down folks who break into my house at the buttcrack of dawn. Dentists, though? I admit it - they absolutely terrify me, and the thought of tomorrow will simply not let me sleep tonight.
Doubtful any amount of sedative is going to help on this one. Geez - if I'm shaking this badly already, what the heck am I going to be like when I actually get there? *Shakes head* God help me - I need some serious prayers today...
Another Impromptu Surgery
So I went back to my oral surgeon on Monday as requested by the ER surgeon who saw me on Sunday. I saw this doctor about an hour after writing up my previous entry.
I should've waited. Ha.
I went into my surgeon, fully expecting this to be an in-and-out venture with her signing off on the meds that the ER doc had parceled out. Instead, I got an impromput surgery and yet another IV drip of the new antibiotics.
She also gave me dry socket. On purpose.
When she did a more thorough search of my mouth, she, too, noted that all her incisions were puss-free. Everything looked clean, but she couldn't figure out why my face / eye / throat swelled out the way it did. On a hunch, she opened my bottom back socket and realized that the clot had trapped the infection, not letting it drain properly. So she and her nurse suctioned a bunch of it out, then started "milking" my infected cheek / eye in an effort to expel the built-up infection.
Again - all while I was awake, and this time, I DID care. I could feel an awful lot of what they were doing, and I was crying like an idiot. They had to stop periodically to wipe away tears, snot and let me hyperventilate it out. I cannot remember a time I was so scared. The only time that trumps this, I think, is news that I might've miscarried Vince. Otherwise - this takes the "Oh my gosh, I'm gonna die, aren't I?" cake.
I kept saying "Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary" over and over as she was scraping away at my socket. She didn't even tell me not to talk. The nurse just patted my hand saying, "We're really sorry, but we've gotta do this" as if that would magically make me not freaked out about it.
Ugh - I felt insane. I was in so much pain, but I was more scared than anything else. I tried to tell them that, and they seemed to get it, which is why they let up on me every so often so I could kinda cry it out. They didn't rush me, which was nice, and they were very kind and reassuring. But dear God - I was shaking so uncontrollably that even the sedative that they pumped into me didn't do much of anything. The nurse suggested giving me more, but the doctor thought I was just fighting it off and didn't want to give me "too much" on account of needing me not to breathe the infection in.
She put in another stitch, but left the dry socket open to give the infection a place to drain. She did put some clove-oil gauze into the hole to help expedite the healing (and boy does it taste horrific!).
On the plus side, it's now 6 in the morning and my eye is no longer swollen half-shut. My temple has gone back to normal, and my cheek is about half the size it was yesterday. My throat, though still a little swollen, isn't causing me any pain when I swallow anymore, either.
All in all, I'd say that's some massive progress!
However, I'm still scared insane of having to go back there on Wednesday. When I told John about what happened, I couldn't contain my sobbing. I've always known myself to be scared of dentists, but going over what happened in there and then explaining I'll have to go back - I was a wreck! Ugh - I don't even want to think about it at this point. Considering my current progress, I doubt she'll do anything to me again, but I no longer wanna hope for that and then get side-swiped by something else. *Shudder*
I'm just ready for this all to be over with.
Oh - and the new antibiotics they gave me? My stomach hates them. *Sigh* Go figure, right?
Click the pic for more of Dave's wit!
So yesterday was entirely too much fun. When I typed out that last entry, my mind was still sorta blurry from the residual morphine they'd given me. I didn't feel as though I had the time or ability to properly express my weeble-wobble feelings.
I held off taking a full dose of percoset so I could properly write out my thoughts without feeling like I was attempting to swim through mud. Here goes nothin', right?
I had to miss Mass yesterday. Part of me realized I had a legit reason for doing so, but another part of me kept thinking, "If I'm able to sit half dazed through an episode or two of Lie to Me (great show, BTW), I should be able to sit through a Mass."
Of course, that brings up the problem of who would've taken me? Surely not John. He might've had I not been visibly ill. But with me sick, he'd've probably gotten highly irritated at my stubborness. I don't really know anyone else who would've been able (or willing) to take me, and I couldn't exactly drive there myself. So I realize that the obligation wasn't really "on me" this weekend. That, however, didn't stop me from missing Mass. I felt like I had misplaced something all day. It wasn't just the drugs talking, either. My heart simply knew it had missed out on something awesome, and there was nothing I could do to fix it right away. The best I could muster was a Spiritual Communion, but I felt that fell short due to my lack of brain capacity. I didn't feel as though I could focus properly, so even that was lackluster.
Even my prayers last night... I didn't pray the Rosary at all. I basically apologized to the Blessed Mother and said, "Look, I'll add this to the last three I haven't been able to pray properly, okay?" I did give the Divine Mercy chaplet a go, because I thought, even during Jesus' Passion, I doubt He ever said to God the Father, "Look, I'm really not feeling with it today... mind if I just talk to You another time or something?"
So I said the Divine Mercy chaplet. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I prayed it, because I recited it more than focused on what I was actually saying. I felt bad about it, but I added, "Jesus, go ahead and do what You will with this. It's not much, but You don't really need much to do great things, do You?"
I dunno - what does anyone else do in these situations? I get that we can offer up whatever situation we're in, but... I dunno. Maybe I'm just so used to my routine that the praying has stopped being about God and more about my expectations? That's not a very good thought, but considering how I've reacted these last couple days to the lack of "proper prayers," maybe that's what God wants to shake into me.
Maybe I focus / rely so much on those "routine prayers" that I miss all the other opportunities to offer things up, too. I don't remember which saint it was, but when she was little, she and her sister would have to share a Sunday dress. That meant only one of them could go to Mass, and they'd swap every other Sunday. The saint would offer up missing Mass for whatever intentions she had, since missing Mass was, in fact, a sacrifice for her.
Little Francisco (of Fatima fame) was unable to say the Rosary on his death bed. He begged Jacinta and Lucia to say it aloud so he could at least hear it. I bet he offered up his inability to pray with them for something.
Even Jacinta - while she was super sick, she could barely eat. She would refuse all sorts of broth until Lucia reminded her to offer up the nausea and pain for souls in Purgatory. Jacinta never gave her mother a problem again and offered even that up for the souls in Purgatory.
So really - who am I to be sitting here whining and complaining that I couldn't attend Mass? Or feeling guilty for not saying all of my prayers properly? Geez... typing really can be therapeutic, 'cause I feel like a jerk now. Instead of being happy that I've got something to really offer up, I'm being all sulky about it because it detracts from my typical offering.
Alrighty, God. You win. I'm sorry for being a sulky little wimp. You can take my disfigured face, my gross and smelly jaw, and my blurry little mind and use it for whatever You see fit. :) Far be it from me to question Your ideas again. :)
The last few days have been pretty awful. Lots of pain, barely any sleep, even less food, and to top it off, I got to take an impromptu trip to the Emergency Room after passing out on the bathroom floor.
Through it all, I gotta admit that John has been more than stellar. :) He's been the perfect Doctor. :)
Special shout out to Theresa and my sister, Shannon, for showing up last minute to help out with Vince. My in-laws took him Friday-Sunday morning so I could rest up.
Anyway, I did end up having to "stay awake" for the surgery. While I was awake and aware of everything, I didn't feel any pain and had a very "They could be sawing my foot off and I'd still be totally chill" attitude about me. I remember thinking, "Wow, if only I could get this in PILL form right before a flight!"
Anyway, after the surgery, I just laid back in the chair as she gave me discharge instructions. My eyes were closed, but I was 100% aware of everything she was saying. My entire body felt like lead, though, and I didn't want to get up. The nurse made me stand and walk into the recoup area so John could collect me.
Within about two hours, my face was in horrific pain. I guess because I didn't have as much anesthesia as others, whatever I did get wore off much faster. John got back with the medicine just in time. I popped a couple percoset and tried to sleep.
I iced my face as I was told and slept for a couple hours.
The next couple days basically followed in a similar fashion.
Today, however, I was growing concerned with the swelling and pain. I could barely sleep and the swelling on the left side of my face had partially closed my eye. I knew that wasn't normal, and the fact it was beginning to puff out my throat alarmed me, too. So at 5am, I ran down to pop more pain killers, grab some ice, and take the antibiotics. I went back to bed and tossed for three hours.
Then I apparently ran downstairs and told John, urgently, that I needed to take my medicine. I have no idea how it happened, but I must've gone into the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and passed out.
About 15 minutes later, John starts banging on the door because he can hear water running but can't get a response from me. I guess I fell in a bad spot, because my body was blocking his entrance into the bathroom. He couldn't push the door open because my body was in the way. My pills were all over the floor because I guess I had dropped them. John later told me he was afraid I'd overdosed or something because of how it looked to him from the other side of the door.
His banging must've jarred me somewhat awake, 'cause he eventually got in and put me on the couch. I refused to go to the hospital. I must've told him I fell asleep or something. I dunno. I just went to bed after taking my medicine and seeing Vincent come back from my mother-in-law's house. My head was absolutely KILLING me.
A few hours later, I woke up again. I immediately felt that my left eye was half shut again because of the swelling. I guess I'd finally come to my senses, so I went downstairs and told John I needed to get to the ER. He agreed, and a friend our ours, Frank, was kind enough to drive through the snow to pick me up so John could stay home with Vince.
As soon as I got to the hospital, triage took me immediately. It was a huge flurry of activity. They told me I had a severe infection from some sort of "pocket." They set me up on an IV drip, shot me up with some morphine and did a bunch of blood work. An oral surgeon drained some of the infection from my face and told me it was lucky that I came in when I did. I had probably passed out from the fever the infection was causing. I wouldn't have realized that because the percoset I was taking masked the fever. It couldn't mask the raging migraine, though, which I had chalked up to the trauma of having my teeth removed. Apparently the infection can work its way into the system relatively fast through the mouth, easily overtaking my brain.
I felt like this doctor was explaining how the zombie apocalypse was beginning. Seriously.
Ugh - so yeah. That was my weekend. My head is still killing me, though not as much after my 2nd round of IV treatment. They gave me a new type of antibiotic (which I now get to take 4 times a day as opposed to 2), and he upped my percoset dosage.
I sincerely hope a lot of souls in Purgatory got some usage out of me this weekend! LoL.
Anyway, thank you all for your prayers. No doubt without 'em, this weekend would've turned out way worse than it finally did.
Finally... finally... I am on the mend!
Wisdom Teeth - Bah.
So I have yet to understand why wisdom teeth earned their moniker. I get that they show up when you're older and supposedly wise, but these teeth? They're stupid as all get out.
I started having pain due to one of them rupturing. I realized that must've been exactly how poor Vince felt when he was teething - only on a much larger scale as he had several fighting their way through his poor gums. I just had one!
Anyway, I finally went to the dentist which was a feat in and of itself. Since having a very bad experience as a child, I've been petrified of dentists since! I seriously went YEARS between check-ups because I was so scared of the thought of being suffocated by another dentist. Took me until the day before my wedding to finally gather up the desperation necessary to force myself into a dental chair.
But I digress.
I finally decided that the pain coupled with the mounting problem of "crowding" were too much to deal with and got myself checked out. My oral surgeon did not look happy at all. Of course not.
She said, "Well, are you sure none of your other wisdom teeth are bothering you?"
I said, "They bother me once in a blue moon, but it's really just that bottom right one."
She replied, "They're all going to have to come out. All are bony impactions and one has a cyst growing around it."
"How difficult is it going to be to remove them all?"
"On a scale from 1 to 10?"
"Yes, a scale from 1 to 10."
"Well... maybe an eight."
Oh yeah... 'cause that makes me feel so much better.
She then asked, "Do you want to be put under or just gassed?"
"UNDER... definitely under. I don't want to remember my name by the time you're finished."
"Well, depending on the cyst, we may need to have you somewhat awake because if you breathe in any of the fluid from the cyst, you could get violently ill."
And we wonder why I hate dentists... why even bother to ask me my preference if you're gonna answer with THAT?
"You may also need a bit of nasal surgery."
"As I mentioned before, your roots extend fairly far. There may be what we call a communication - a hole that basically connects your throat and mouth to your sinus area. We'd need to perform minor surgery to suture you up to close the communication."
I am inwardly growling at her, fully knowing it's not her fault, but still wanting to blame her for everything anyway.
"There's also a bit of an issue with your lower right tooth. These roots are also rather deep and seem to be precariously placed near the nerves along your jawline. There's a chance you could lose sensation in that quadrant of your mouth permenantly."
GAHHH - ca'mon!
"Don't worry, though - no one will really notice but you. There won't be any drooping or drooling as a result.
Finally, there's the issue of your jaw itself. You have a... your cranium is on the smaller side which makes your jaw rather delicate. There is a slight chance your jaw fractures a bit as we remove those lower teeth."
I seriously wanted to tear out of there screaming. I'm not even a little bit kidding. My knuckles must've been white as snow as I gripped the chair trying not to freak out.
So yeah - I get this surgery done tomorrow - Thursday - and I'm REALLY not looking forward to it. To ice this wonderful cake, I was told about a week and a half ago that I've finally got a hearing date due to a car accident (been waiting 3 plus years for this). Guess when? Next Wednesday. So hopefully I'm able to talk without wanting to shoot myself by then, 'cause I have no doubt I'll be required to talk for a good portion of the day. ARGH.
Anyway, on the plus side, John pointed out that if I do lose sensation in my mouth, I could start making money as a fire-eating side-show act... or by shoving nails into that part of my face. *Shakes head* Gotta love him.
So yeah - all that said, please keep me in your prayers. I'd much appreciate it! Thanks all!
Pope the Cat
Commentary on the wall of a fellow blogger brought to mind a really happy memory of mine today.
My family has always been the "animal-loving" type. There was never really a time where we didn't have a cat, a dog, or some combination of the two running about. The stories of how they came to live with us were just as unique and varied as their personalities. One in particular jumped to mind today, due to the aforementioned post on Dymphna's wall.
This post isn't about Dymphna's article. Instead, it's about the memory the commentary brought about, and I wanted to share it with you guys, many of whom are animal lovers just like me!
Anyway, back when I was in about 4th grade, we had recently lost our cat, Sparky. Sparky was a gorgeous tabby who was a mostly outdoors cat. He'd leave at night and come back in the mornings, turning up on my brother's bed, or whipping his tail in front of the fridge as he sprawled out on the mat we kept there. We were all pretty sad when he simply didn't show up anymore. We knew that he was older and my mom explained that when cats get older and are ready to die, they go off somewhere private to be at peace.
I always like to think they sneak off to die privately so we don't see their little souls shooting off to Heaven. Cats like to give off the impression that they're satanic little creatures who have hearts of steel, but us cat-loving humans know better... they're all furry little angels in disguise!
That all being said, we were highly bummed about Sparky, but God had plans for this animal-loving family!
One Sunday while we were at Mass, an extremely curious thing happened. A stray tabby cat (who looked an awful lot like a super young version of Sparky) came prancing into the church. He marched right up the aisle and into the sanctuary. He walked up the steps leading to the altar, and acted like the place was his. Fr. Gerry (a resident priest at the time) wasn't entirely sure what to do. He kept on with the Mass ('cause seriously... what else can ya do?), and parishioners just kinda giggled as they watched this plucky little cat running around the sanctuary.
My family ended up grabbing him (Mother was a Eucharistic Minister, sister was a lector, and brother was sacristan at the time... or maybe an altar server?). Anyway, at the end of Mass, Fr. Gerry asked what we were going to do with the cat. We ended up taking him home with us, absolutely smitten with his adorable personality.
When we got home, we figured we had to name him. So we tossed names into a hat. My brother thought it'd be funny to call him Pope because we found him in a church. He certainly acted like he owned the place, so it seemed fitting. Everyone kinda agreed it'd be funny to call him that, but no one really wanted to settle on that for a name. I guess it seemed a little wrong.
But Raymond threw that name into the hat anyway, no one really expecting it to be pulled. I only remember Blackie and Sparky II were two other choices. My mom pulled out Pope, and the name stuck. Ha ha. He was a wonderful, wonderful cat. Many years later, he unfortunately was attacked viciously by neighborhood kids. He lost an eye and was never quite the same. He ended up dying a short time later. But oh my... the love we had for our cat named Pope... what a wonderful memory to stumble upon today. He was such a little sweetie. May he be enjoying his own slice of Heaven with all our wonderful animal friends.
St. Francis, protect our beautiful animals and help us to be their faithful, trusty stewards.
Pieta - by Jason Jenicke
Brace yourselves for yet another of Bl. Anne Catherine's visionary stupifiers!
While delving into the days before Our Lady's death, St. Anne saw her giving directives on what should happen to her few worldly possessions. One cloth, in particular, drew Bl. Anne's attention. This cloth had a supreme light about it, was woven of the finest materials and stark white where there wasn't large amounts of dried blood.
She was given to understand that this cloth was used by Our Lady as she cradled her Son in her arms after He was taken from the Cross. She tenderly wiped at His Blood stained Body, using her tears as cleansing salve. She lovingly removed the spittle, the sweat, and the dirt away from His Face with this cloth, which she then safeguarded as a precious relic.
Our Lady made known to Bl. Anne Catherine that this cloth was the original purificator. All cloths used since to wipe chalices are used in a similar manner. I wonder how many priests realize this! As they wipe the Chalice of Christ's Blood, they take on the role of Our Lady as she accepted the Body of her Beloved Son from the Cross. Just as they wipe away the traces of Blood and spittle, Our Lady did first as she caressed His Face and Body, allowing her tears to fall as rain over Him.
At Mass today, I could have wept as I saw our pastor using the purificator. I never realized just what that action meant until seeing it through Bl. Anne's eyes... through Our Lady's eyes.
The thought is so humbling, so moving, so heart-breaking that I could think of nothing else as I knelt after receiving. I'm so glad I found the above artwork (by Jason Jenicke, an incredible artist I found by absolute accident!). It is simply the perfect summation of my feelings - I think I'll see this image every time I see purificators now.
So some of you know I've been reading The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich (I highly recommend it, BTW).
God certainly proved He enjoys foreshadowing and coming full circle through her!
I came across a passage that absolutely stopped by heart. I was so awed that, after reading the page several times over, I simply closed the book so I could savor this particular revelation for the rest of the night.
As the Holy Family fled into Egypt, they made several stops along the way to rest and refresh their supplies. One stop took them into a den of thieves. This particular band of robbers made it a practice to kidnap young boys and train them in the arts of stealing. Upon seeing the Holy Family, they intended to do the same with them, but the leader of the group was touched by the Spirit and instead took pity on them. He opened his own home for their use and ordered that no harm come upon them.
He saw something special in the Christ-Child. As his wife brought water for the Holy Family to refresh themselves and to bathe the baby Jesus, the leader understood that Jesus was, indeed, a holy Child. He told his wife that she should approach the Blessed Mother and ask that she be allowed to rinse her 3 year old son in Christ's used bath-water, as he suspected there was healing power in it. Their son was suffering from an advanced form of leprosy and was in obvious pain. They hoped that touching the same water that touched this holy Infant might prove beneficial.
Their faith was rewarded. Before she even uttered her request, the Blessed Mother turned to the woman and suggested that she bring her son to bathe in Jesus' water. Upon being submerged, the leprosy fell away from him and he was fully restored to health. All present were in awe and praised the God of the Holy Family for such a miracle.
Here's the heart-stopping blessing...
Bl. Emmerich noted, almost as an after-though, that she recognized the 3 year old boy. She couldn't place him at first, but then she realized he was the Good Thief who, many years later, died beside Christ on the cross.
First, Jesus blessed him with His water, washing away his physical ailments. In the end, Jesus blessed him with His Blood, washing away his spiritual sin and blessing him with Heaven.
How beautiful is that? How merciful is our God? No matter what, He calls out to His Own and He gives of Himself even unto death. Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Found this through a buddy on Facebook. I absolutely love it and think it's a brilliant evangelization tool. It's also brilliant for public relations, and I hope it goes viral! :)
These are all things people seem to forget about the Church. We do so much good and began so many positive things. Though we're far from perfect, we've truly exemplified love and strive to do so always.
Spread the love!
Definitely filing this away under "That was Awkward, and Slightly Irritating." A friend of mine called me out on routinely going to my pastor's line for Communion. Apparently this "pattern of selfishness" made her feel disrespected and hurt.
I knew sooner or later this issue would come up, and I was even prepared to explain my position in a succinct manner. I didn't really get the chance, though, because I was chided the entire time. She had automatically assumed she knew my motives and lectured me on why those motives were incorrect.
I was surprised to learn that I:
- am being selfish
- think that reception of the Host from a priest makes me holier than those who don't
- think that I get an extra blessing because I receive from the priest
- belittle the role of EMs and their important role in the Church
- am setting a bad example for others who might get confused by my actions
- (apparently I'm also a lot more popular than I've given myself credit for)
- disrupt the flow of traffic by crossing the aisle
I explained that I believed EMs to be Extraordinary Ministers - only to be used in (*gasp*) Extraordinary circumstances. Sunday masses, especially with our congregation size, could not be considered "extraordinary circumstances" that require the aid of EMs.
Secondly, I believe that only an Ordinary Minister (Priest / Deacon) should be allowed to touch the Host. If EMs must be used, they should be relegated to Chalices as their unconsecrated hands never come into contact with Christ.
Next, I don't believe in getting an "extra blessing" or being "holier" than others. I simply choose to accept Christ in the way He intended us to receive Him - from the hands of His Ordinary ministers.
I believe that this over-use of EMs lessens people's understanding of the awesome Presence of Christ. If anyone is willy-nilly able to pick up the Host, are we really paying Him the proper reverence? I simply don't believe so, and that can be seen clearly in the obvious eroding of people's faith in Transubstantiation. Most folks believe the bread and wine merely represent Jesus.
I do NOT disrupt the flow of traffic - that's just non-sense. I also doubt anyone else is paying enough attention to me to gain a "bad example" though I could only HOPE to be so lucky that someone chooses to follow me in this regard. Again, though, absolutely DOUBTFUL anyone pays any attention to me.
I don't belittle the role EMs play, I simply view it as understanding the role as it was MEANT to be. It wasn't meant to be a troop of lay-persons rushing up to the altar at Communion time every Sunday. That, in and of itself, diminishes the role they are meant to play.
She pushed me further, attempting to defend herself (I guess my differing opinions came off as a vicious attack on her integrity) by saying, "This is my way of fully participating in the Mass. It is my calling to do this, and I believe those who look down on that choice are disrespectful."
... *sigh* ...
Maybe I shouldn't have needled, but I couldn't help myself on this point. The sentence "This is my way of fully participating in the Mass" REALLY got under my skin. I asked, "Oh, so because I'm not a Eucharistic Minister, I guess I'm not fully participating in the Mass?"
She said, "Well no, that's not what I meant. Some people just aren't called to do that."
I said, "Oh, okay, so if you aren't on the schedule for a particular weekend, do you feel as though your Mass experience was somehow sullied because you didn't participate to your fullest?"
She stuttered back that "I didn't mean that either. It's just I have a calling and you seem to resent that by always going to a priest."
At this point, I'm darting my eyes around for the closest wall to smash my head into - repeatedly.
"No, I do not resent EMs. I honestly don't pay them any attention. I'm too busy praying that Jesus puts me in the right frame of mind to accept Him lovingly into my heart. Apparently, however, while you should be busying yourself with begging God to make you worthy of distributing Him to the congregation, you're eyeballing the congregation to see who is choosing you over the other ministers. I didn't realize there was some sort of competition going on for who could get the most communicants."
ARGH - I was REALLY fuming at this point, and I realized I was starting to get snippy. As a result, I said, "Look, it is not my intention to hurt your feelings by not joining in with your line. I never thought it made any difference to the Eucharistic Ministers who showed up in what line. However, I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS seek out a priest or a deacon as that is something I personally promised Jesus when I entered back into the faith. So if you've got a problem with that, I really don't know what to tell you."
She responded we would just have to be content to disagree with one another. I stopped myself from saying, "I WAS content with that well before you opened your mouth to me!" Ugh - I seriously cannot believe that conversation took place. I really can't!
Haiti - 2 Years and Counting
Two years later and poor Haiti still hasn't bounced back from the devastating earthquake that ravaged its people in 2010.
Watching the reports with Vincent - then only a few months old at the time - had me in a tizzy of tears. There was one report of an infant, two months younger than Vince, who suffered two broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a concussion (among other things). I cried for a week, praying that God spare that dear little boy. He had lost his mother to the tragedy, and no other family could be located at the time of reports. I still think of that baby - I still pray that he survived and was reconnected with family who love, protect and nurture him.
Another little boy had lost his leg while trying to rescue his brother. His brother survived and I remember him talking to a reporter about his fears of living a life with one leg. Surprisingly, the little boy did not seem angry, bitter or sad about his loss. He was simply glad to be alive and happy to have his family whole. I think of him, too.
And a mother who had somehow made it to the US naval-hospital in time to give birth to her daughter, whom she named Hope... I think of her and her child, too.
I think of the countless orphans created by this tragedy, and of the countless families all over the world who opened their homes to these innocent babes.
I then think of the heartless monsters who capitalized on this desperation, dabbling in human trafficking.
And finally my thoughts trace their way to the millions of people who poured out money, donations and prayers for the benefit of this struggling country. Reading reports like this tear my heart to shreds.
There is simply no excuse - none. We've been able to put man on the moon, we've been able to see into an atom, we've been able to eradicate hundreds of illnesses that were once death-sentences to whole populations. We've done all this and more, yet we cannot properly funnel funds into a country that so desperately needs them. We've got children living in the streets, mothers not able to properly feed their families, and men who want to rebuild but not given the tools with which to do so. This is unacceptable.
Prayers are so desperately needed for this country. May they all find peace and prosperity soon. Blessed Mother, take care of Haiti.
From the Cradle to the Cross
I've been thinking a lot about this Incarnation / St. Helena's merger. Considering how big of a deal this is for my family and friends - all of whom either worked for or were educated by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the merger is pretty much ALL I can think about anymore.
Anyway, I was attempting to look for signals that all was part of God's plan. I know He lets us in on His Plans now and again, so I was hoping He'd drop me a little line to let me know that all was well.
He did. He always does when you ask.
I was talking to a friend of mine about how they're gonna go about renaming our schools. Someone had made the joke that they should rename the newly merged school "Cardinal Dougherty Catholic Elementary School" to spite the Archdiocese for closing Cardinal Dougherty High School last year (which is where all of us Inky / St. Helena's kids went upon graduating 8th grade).
I laughed - I think it's a hilarious idea. But upon further reflection, St. William's and St. Cecilia's (two other schools that are merging) could technically also claim that name as they, too, were feeder schools for Cardinal Dougherty High.
So as I thought of it more, I said, "I really hope it's something Marian."
Then I realized what Incarnation and St. Helena's had in common...
The Incarnation was Christ becoming Flesh. The Word of God took up human form and was born of the Blessed Mother. He was laid in a cradle of wood, scorned and ignored by His own people.
St. Helena was granted the grace of finding the True Cross of Christ, where once more He was scorned and eventually killed by His People.
Love brought Christ forth through His Incarnation at the behest of Our Lady's "Fiat." Love, many years later, brought Christ forth to the Cross at the behest of His Father's Will. Our two schools are like bookends for the life of Christ. A circle of love, hope and fulfillment.
God is with us, even in so dark a time. This thought truly brought me so much comfort. His Hand guides us, and though Incarnation School will cease to exist, the family we forged, the lessons we learned, and the love that we share will always remain - passed on to future generations through our lives' examples.
Question Box Giggle
Tonight was my first night back teaching CCD since the break.
The two questions I pulled from the Question Box tonight were:
If Jesus and John the Baptist were alive today, would they celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah?
(I guess this one was put into the box before the break.)
If "BC" means "Before Christ" and "AD" means "After Death" what comes in between?
Ha ha ha ha - seriously! This is why I adore my Tuesday night lessons. Never a dull moment. Every class is full of innocence, a sincere thirst for learning, and such touching sentiments. I am so grateful for the chance to work with these children. :)
_BTW - special shout out to my wonderful mother who celebrates her birthday today. YAY!
I realize I'm on the late side with this. With emotions running high as a result of the closings / mergers, you'd think I haven't been paying attention to anything else.
In truth, however, I've been reading about the Magi for the last several days. For Christmas, I purchased The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a collection of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich's visions.
On Thursday night, I started getting the first snippets of her visions of the Three Kings. I have to admit, I was really surprised. With all the specials I'd seen via the History Channel, I thought I had them pegged as master astronomers who only understood this "king" to be the political kind. I also thought there was a group of them, watered down through history as "3" to represent the 3 symbolic gifts presented to the Christ-child.
Boy did I learn a thing or two...
These men were, in fact, kings. Yes, they were master astronomers, but their astronomy went well beyond star-gazing for clues as to the next political uprising. Apparently, their lineage was established more than 500 years before the Star of Bethlehem came to be. God had granted 3 of their ancestors a vision which predicted that a Child would be born of a Virgin. This Child would come to rule the world and bring peace and prosperity to all who accepted Him.
The sisters then were given a promise of celestial signs that this promised Child was born. Ever since, these people looked to the stars in anticipation of the Child's birth. Unfortunately, some people believed that the practice of sacrificing children would bring about the Child's coming faster. Thousands of innocent children were sacrificed in a cruel manner (they were flayed and their blood spread throughout a temple dedicated to the Virgin).
Thankfully, at the birth of Our Lady, the 3 Kings were gifted a vision of a Virgin in the stars. This wasn't just an astronomical sign - they actually saw a Virgin holding a balanced scale in the sky and understood that the time for the Child would soon be at hand. At the same time, a priest within the Temple of the Virgin also received a vision in which he came to understand that sacrificing children was a horrendous thing and must be ceased immediately. From that moment forward, the sacrifice of children stopped there.
No doubt God granted this mercy in honor of Mary who, having been born into the world, would never wish for such an atrocity to occur in her name. Our Lady, not yet a Mother, still brought peace and life to children just through her blessed and perfect existence on Earth.
Anyway, the 3 Kings truly were 3 in number and all related in direct lineage from those first prophets 500 years ago. They came from "afar" and were truly pious, holy men. Though they didn't believe in "God" as the Jews did, they understood that a higher power was calling them to lead lives of justice and humility. They longed for the Promised Child who would unite the world under peace and love. Thus, when they recognized the star announcing His Birth, they didn't hesitate to put together their gifts (well thought out given their 500 year prep time) and be on the move.
As they traveled, they drew a large following (about 200 people). Since the kings were generous in their alms, folks flocked to them. Everywhere these men went, they asked about the Newborn King. No one knew what they were talking about! The kings were confused and troubled by the lack of regard for this Holy Child. Everywhere they went they became more and more baffled as no one wanted to hear anything about this Child. The kings were treated kindly because of their obvious riches, but otherwise were looked upon as fools.
How loving God was to open the eyes of Gentiles. When these men (and their entourage) finally arrived at the Cave of the Nativity, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph were moved by their gifts (which really were gold, frankincense and myrrh - among many other things). They were so happy that such wise and holy men had come to pay homage to God. Even though the Holy Family was turned away and treated with disregard by their own people, Gentiles had come, seeing with their hearts the Truth of God's Love.
As the priest said in his homily, the 3 Wise Men are proof that God is the God of ALL people. God calls all of us to Himself. We have the free will to answer His call.
Really... I Like Going to Mass
Saturday into Sunday, my son couldn't sleep. I had attempted soothing him in my bed, but he wasn't having any of it. As a result, both of us were up for the better part of the night.
John finally woke up around 6:30 and took Vince downstairs so I could sleep a bit. Thankful, I immediately fell back to sleep and didn't wake up again until 9:50 - ten minutes before the last Mass at my parish.
John must've noticed that, too, 'cause he shouted up almost instantly, "Gina? Don't you gotta go to Mass or something?"
*Smile* I actually grinned when he said that.
I shouted back down that it was OK, I'd just go to a later Mass in Philly since there was no way I'd get ready in time for the 10.
See, I'd originally wanted to go to Incarnation's Mass, but it simply wasn't in the cards. Instead, I decided to go to St. William's - another parish affected by the closings. They're the only Church I know of in my area that does a Sunday night Mass.
John asked me how far away St. William's was. I said, "About 45 minutes." He replied with, "Seriously? You're gonna travel 45 minutes for Mass? I think God'll forgive you for missing."
I shook my head. It's not about God forgiving me for missing. It's about me wanting to go and being fully able to. I said that. I said, "John, I WANT to go." He just snorted again, obviously confused as to why I'd ever wanna do something boring like go to Mass.
A few hours later, while the football games were well under-way, our cousin went through the same spiel. I think John brought it up again just to needle me with backup, but I didn't mind. I understand their views and accept that they simply don't understand mine. So when our cousin said, "God goes to bed early on Sundays" in an attempt to poke fun at my desire to attend a later Mass, I responded with the same level of ridiculousness.
On my way home from Mass, though, I realized that I honestly, truly do love attending Mass. It's not like that's news to me. However, that SHOULD'VE been my response to my cousin. While sarcasm and funny quips are what come naturally to me in those circumstances, I'd probably get further expressing myself on terms they'd be familiar with.
How often do both he and John travel well over 45 minutes just to get a "Fat Sandwich" from a truck outside Rutgers? How many times have they crossed state lines simply to attend a wrestling match or a sports game? They've traveled much more (and for much less) than I have. Yet because they place more value on things like food and entertainment, I am the one who must be out of my mind.
Ha ha. The mindset of the atheist. Gotta appreciate the irony.
I harbor no resentment for being teased in this manner. Neither one of them is attempting to hurt my feelings. Sure they wanna poke fun at the religious chick who is obviously out of her mind sometimes for believing in God, the tooth fairy and unicorns, but I take it in stride. They don't know any better, and I can't fault them for that. I've been blessed to know God. I've been blessed to feel His Love and to know His Mother. That doesn't make me better or worse than these two. That's something I've come to learn these last few months. This love I have - this peace I have regarding religion and God - it is a gift.
I never really understood that. I always thought, "It's because I've logically thought everything out. It makes sense to me, so I believe it. It doesn't make sense to others because they're either not smart enough, or not willing enough to attempt learning."
How foolish of me. My spiritual progression has nothing much to do with me at all. This love for Christ and this love for the Blessed Mother has ALWAYS been within me. It's never something I've had to work for. It's never something I've questioned. For me to think I somehow arrived at that intrinsic love logically is ridiculous. I realize now it was gifted to me.
My spiritual director - for YEARS - told me that inner certainty of love and peace was a gift. I always kinda nodded, hearing what she said but not understanding it fully. Now I understand. And I am truly grateful for such a gift. Each night, when I put Vince to bed, I ask Our Lady to pray for that same love for Vincent. I ask God to grant Vince the same sense of love and knowledge of Him that I have - even stronger.
Oh if only all people could open their hearts to Him. How happy we all could be in knowing His Love! :)
So yes, I am more than happy to go to Mass. I'd be more than happy to travel 45 minutes or more for the chance to be present at our most prized Sacrifice of Love.
Of Loss and Restoration
Since last night was Friday, I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries. Quite fitting considering the incredibly sorrowful day us Philadelphians endured.
Anyhow, as I held cradled my son (I pray the rosary as a part of my "putting Vince to bed" routine), I felt ashamed by my sadness upon losing Incarnation School. Our Lady suffered far worse in losing her Son to Calvary, and she bore it with the full faith that God deemed this Sacrifice necessary to reconcile humanity to Heaven.
The sacrifice of Incarnation is a deep wound to those who have given their lives to educating children there. My mother, having taught for 31 years (28, I think, spent at Incarnation) is one of the ones most wounded by this consolidation. It pains me to see her so hurt, but turning against the Church or angrily railing against God isn't going to help anyone.
So many folks are angry with priests, bishops, God... the commentary on the threads surprised me. While the Archdiocese bears an awful lot of responsibility for our school system falling apart, the parishioners do as well. How many alumni funneled money back into their parishes? How many families helped with fundraising or offered to volunteer their services to help cut costs? How many folks donated library books, gym equipment, etc?
Though I do believe much of the responsibility lies with the poor administration and fiscally irresponsible Archdiocesan cogs, we can't shirk responsibility ourselves. We've all had a hand to play in this, for as painful as that is to realize.
Bah. Not that it matters. What's done is done. Our local community is hurting right now. We're going to continue to hurt for many years as a result of this. It is a devestating blow. Satan probably smugly looks on, proud of the job he's done in stifling more of our Catholic heritage. We must not turn on one another right now - making a bad situation worse. We really do need to band together and make the most of this situation.
Tonight, as I prayed the Glorious Mysteries (I rotate the mysteries in order, not based on days which is why I was on Glorious tonight), I couldn't get my mind off Pentecost.
Pentecost was the birthday of the Church. This triumphant rebirth (a restoration, really) could not have happened without the immense sorrow of the Passion. I was comforted by that - I think God was just trying to tell me "Look, things seem really horrible right now, but have faith. I'm steering this ship, and I'm always headed towards the glorious horizon. I will get you to Heaven's shores safely."
So while I still feel deep sadness for my family and friends at Incarnation, I truly do have a sense of peace about it. My heart will no doubt be broken a million times the day they close for good, but at least I know God has plans for each and every one of the folks displaced and broken by this consolidation. May we see the peace of that glorious horizon soon, Lord.
The List of Closings / Mergers
Got word this morning that my elementary school, Incarnation of Our Lord, is closing - set to merge with St. Helena's come next year.
While I was expecting this (low enrollment, poor, inner city demographic, etc), I simply was NOT prepared for the deluge of loss I felt upon hearing confirmation that my beloved Incarnation was getting the axe.
My mother teaches there. Has for going on 30 years. I was a sub there at random intervals. I got my first job there. I gained my first and best friend, Mary, there. I learned my faith there. So many memories... so much family... and to know it will be shuttering breaks my heart.
Last year, I was told my high school, Cardinal Dougherty, was closing as well. That news certainly didn't shock me, and I almost welcomed it considering how awful it had become in the years when even I attended. I saw the closing of Dougherty as a prudent move... a trimming of the hedges to solicit fresh, prosperous growth.
Incarnation's closing does not spell that for me. I feel that the Archdiocese spent too long ignoring the many, many issues it faced, and as a result, had to subscribe to a "Scorched Earth" policy to finally handle the crushing weight of debt. There's no way the Archdiocese could attempt fixing all the problems each of these schools had, so instead of attempting, they cut their losses, closed what they could, and are attempting to consolidate in the hopes of fixing fewer new problems than too many older ones.
I understand this. I really do. I even agree with it to a certain extent. I think the timing is off (seriously - how much teaching does anyone think will happen between now and June?). I think the underhanded pressure the Archdiocese is putting on the staff to sign away their lives is reprehensible. I also think... ugh. At this point, who cares what I think? Archbishop Chaput is here for a reason. He was brought in to fix this mess we've gotten ourselves into, and this is his plan to do it. I accept his plan and trust that, in the long run, we will benefit from it. I believe Chaput's heart is in the right place. I really, honestly do. This is just a terribly large pill for me to swallow.
My extended Incarnation family now faces a looming deadline of "Find a job or go hungry." The families will now have to scramble to find new schools. And what of our buildings? What of our parish? The school fed our parish community. Without it, how long before Incarnation Parish also withers away?
My heart breaks at the notion. Oh Lord... we are in the time of dry wood. Stay with us... protect us... shelter us. May you guide this wildfire. When the smoke clears and the embers die out, allow the regrowth to be quick and joyous.
***Read 3rd paragraph before clicking link!***
A friend of mine posted this link to my wall this morning coupled with this question:
Do Catholics still/did they ever believe that sex is only for pro-creation?
Now before you go clicking that link, I'd like to warn some of my more sensitive readers that you will be taken to a site that prides itself on being hip, irreverent and sexually charged. Of course, it's titled Jezebel. So be warned that the article, though it deals with a valid question many people, like my above friend, ask, it handles religion is an extremely arrogant, ignorant manner which even I (someone not easily offended) offense to. If you'd rather not click the link, keep reading for a basic summary.
The article she pointed me towards dealt with a growing trend in the adult entertainment business. Adult toy makers are apparently attempting to draw in the more religious crowd with shops titled "Covenant Spice," "Kosher Sex Toys," and "El Asira." These are not your typical "Adam and Eve" vendors. They are all G-rated in content (no vixens in sexually suggestive poses, item names are scrubbed of sexually charged words, etc), each site de-sexualizes reviews (and packaging!), and most rely on religious commentary to set potential customers at ease.
I assume this led my friend to ask about that nagging stereotype she'd heard so many times about Catholics believing sex is only for creating children, not for creating pleasure. As always, I thanked her for being one of the few to actually seek out clarification on this point, as it's something many Catholics are typically confused about. Since sex is such a taboo subject, stereotypes abound because no one wants to open their mouths to clarify on account of the subject matter.
Anyway, my answer was this:
Sex is NOT only for procreation, though that is one of the main aspects of it. Sex, to Catholics, is a constant renewal of wedding vows (our wedding vows being to give ourselves to one another freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully). Sex is the summation of those vows and a constant reminder that we sacrifice ourselves for one another, and if we sacrifice willingly for the happiness and pleasure of the other, good things happen to both of us - and to subsequent children.
Obviously this is as base an answer as possible, but hopefully it gets my point across.
As for vibrators, etc, typically the Church frowns upon those things as they can lead to masturbation (which harms healthy sexual functioning within a marriage) or a clouded view of sexual relations within a marriage itself.
HOWEVER, upon researching this particular question due to another friend of mine (like yourself) who posted something similar about a year ago, I learned that the Church does make allowances for things like this when used in a healthy way.
This link is one that I had come across in my research that I felt answered the question perfectly for me. So I leave it for all of you as well, since this truly is something that has befuddled many Christians. Sex really is OK to talk about in a mature and loving way. :)
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