Car Exhaust Epiphany
How often have you gotten stuck driving behind a car with a busted up exhaust?
It kicks back a disgusting black cloud of gross that you inevitably have to drive through. If you don't already have your ventilation set to "circulate in-car," you're punished with breathing in the putrid fumes.
Can you tell how much I hate this circumstance?
Well, color me incredulous today.
I was driving into work when I noticed a line of five cars driving placidly behind a large truck spewing VOLUMES of filth into the air.
The fumes were black, but not one of these cars moved to get around the offending vehicle.
I wasn't going to wait around for them to come to their senses. I switched lanes and drove right past all six of them.
The rest of the way to work, I kept wondering why the other five vehicles didn't follow suit. There was a completely open lane to their left. They definitely weren't following the truck for directions. Why, then, would all of them be content to remain behind a truck spewing poison into their cars?
It was then that I realized how often we each do this in our own lives.
How often do we remain content to follow a leader that is so obviously spewing something dangerous?
I'm a big culprit when it comes to bad language. I slip into using terrible language when I'm surrounded by others who do the same. Oh Lord, I'm terrible when it comes to this.
There are clear paths that I could easily steer myself onto that would take me past the foul-language, but I remain. Why? Because sometimes it's easier to coast along and not demand better for oneself.
And that's a terribly embarrassing thing to realize about yourself. But realize it I did as I scoffed at the other "idiot drivers" who didn't see it. *Cringe*
We do this so often in our lives. Personal relationships, work relationships, even political ones. Our leaders often try to shove unsavory fumes down our throats and we allow it. We can and must do better for ourselves. We need to seek out the other paths that take us beyond the poisonous actions of those we are behind.
One bad exhaust and here I go waxing political. In truth, though, I think the analogy works.
Why I Now Love My Catholic Vows
I was at a wedding this past weekend for my cousin. It was a nice little ceremony with a splendid reception.
However, I have to admit that during the ceremony, I wasn't quite sure when the rite of marriage actually took place.
In a Catholic ceremony, it's cut and dried. You know precisely when you've completed your vows and are husband and wife.
In my cousin's ceremony, however, I had absolutely no idea when the union actually took place. There were two sets of vows, there was a sand ceremony that "symbolically united" them (similar to unity candles), and there were two blessings offered. There was also the ring-exchange. My niece kept asking me "Are they married yet? Are they gonna kiss now?" and I had no idea what to tell her because I didn't know, myself!
Granted, that's not a huge deal in the scheme of things. It was a nice ceremony - much nicer than some others I've attended - but it made me appreciate my own Catholic ceremony so much more.
I knew precisely when our Sacrament was taking place. Though our vows weren't "super unique" or funny, or quirky, or any other number of extravagant things couples try to put forth to show everyone just how special their love for one another is, I now fully appreciate the timeless aspect of our simple (and deeply rich) vows. After all, these vows have been around for millennia. They've provided the basis for countless blessed unions. Our marriage, in effect, became a part of this tapestry. It's a comfort to know that our vows are the same ones made by the strong family lineages that produced us. They are like tethers to our ancestry.
Just a musing. Again, I thought my cousin's ceremony was nice, but it struck me as odd that I wasn't sure when the actual marriage took place given the amount of circumstantial "fluff" that's sole purpose was to give everyone the warm fuzzies. And I'm cool with warm-fuzzies, but I feel that for a marriage, you should KNOW when the rite is taking place. It's such an important step in your life (two becoming one and all) that there shouldn't be confusion as to when the moment comes to pass.
Ah well. Regardless, prayers of blessing for them, please - they're good people. :)
Our National Anthem's Missing Verse
I admit I had no idea this was part of our national anthem. However, I'm not altogether surprised it's gone "missing" during our various celebrations and sporting events.
Kudos to this marine. Kudos to those who stood up to join him with their hands over their hearts.
Well done Francis Scott Key. Well done.
3rd Blogiversary (A Week Late!)
So I completely forgot about my own anniversary last week. Whoops!
It was three years last Saturday that I've been sharing my life with you fine people. That means it's been three years since many of you have begun sharing your lives with me as well.
I'm incredibly blessed by each and every one of you (silent and not so silent). You have validated my desire to chase after God, and you've supported me and shown me such compassion and understanding. You've shared prayer with me, allowed me to share prayer with you, and you've been willing participants on this adventure.
My thanks. Know my prayers are said with you tonight. I'll be soliciting St. Germaine Cousin's intercession. In case you forgot, she's my favorite saint and the one I entrusted this blog to three years ago.
Another Flower From Heaven
Last night, we celebrated the wedding of our cousin, Ryan.
Something really, really special happened out of no place, and my heart is still incredibly grateful.
Vince and I were taking a rest from the dance floor when I heard the beginning chords of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" by Elvis.
I thought it'd be nice to scoop Vince into my arms for a slow dance. As we began rocking to the music, I felt John come up and put his arms around us.
Instantly, I had this inner yearning for him to be dancing with Myla. I was struck with missing her fiercely. I should be dancing with Vince, and he should be dancing with Myla.
Suddenly, as if on cue, our niece, Alliya, tugged on my dress and said, "Here you go."
She held in her hands a perfect, pink rose.
I took it from her and handed it to Vincent. Immediately he began kissing it over and over and over again.
Just when I began grieving being unable to physically hold her in my arms, Heaven sent me a rose in the vein of Myla's namesake, St. Therese, who is still known to shower these flowers to those who ask for her intercession.
I clutched Vincent to myself and felt the tears of gratitude spill. Vince kept that rose with him for the rest of the night. He fell asleep with it on the way home. When I finally tucked him away in bed, he wanted to make sure that "his flower" was safe in water. We put it in front of the Blessed Mother statue on his dresser.
What a blessed gift when I needed it so.
Thank you, God, for giving me these little kisses from my daughter. Myla Therese, you be extra sweet to Sister Therese for me, okay? One day I'll return all of these kisses a thousandfold. I love you, sweetie.
Vince ran right over to the Annunciation. I asked if he knew who the statues were of and he immediately said "Mary."
I said, "Do you know who the angel is?"
Originally he thought it was St. Michael (because that's the angel he's most familiar with), but I explained that this angel was named Gabriel and got to tell Mary she was going to be Jesus' Mommy!
Vincent looked at their faces while I snapped a few photos. Then he took off running towards the Visitation.
As you can see here, Vince has made himself at home with St. Elizabeth. Her hands are open, almost as if to stop the Blessed Mother from approaching her.
I can almost hear her saying, "Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?"
And yet come Mary does. Come she must. For though news of Jesus' existence has not been announced, St. Elizabeth recognizes His Divine Presence as does her unborn son, John (the-one-day-Baptist), who leaps for joy within her womb.
Mary came, and in her labored procession to accompany Elizabeth in her final months of pregnancy, she unwittingly blessed the world with the very first Eucharistic Procession.
After all, she carried Christ Incarnate within her. She was the first, and most perfect, monstrance.
Mary, for her part, raises both her hands in a gesture of offering. Elizabeth should not be amazed that Mary has come to her, for it is not through Mary's doing that she has become the Mother of God. She is simply the hand-maiden of the Lord, and from this statue, you can just imagine her leading St. Elizabeth in the first of many Magnificats.
"My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour. He looks on his servant in her lowliness; henceforth all ages will call me blessed. The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy his name!"
For the Nativity, I was so happy to see they built a "stable" around the statues. Vincent was quite happy with the set up, too, as he freely went in to "see baby Jesus."
Mar is kneeling, and Joseph has his hands open and slightly outstretched, almost as if awaiting the gift of his newborn Son to be placed in his arms.
Vincent bent down and kissed the Child Jesus as he'd been taught to do at our parish manger. It made me happy that he remembered this small act of reverence.
Then again, he could've just been kissing on another child, because he adores kissing babies on the head. Regardless, I thought it was sweet.
The next mystery, the Presentation, was beautifully done. Vince was already there before I'd even finished taking photos of the Nativity. He kept calling out "Mommy, Mommy! I found birds!"
I thought he'd found a nest or something, but it turns out he was talking about the doves St. Joseph was holding as an offering / ransom as dictated by Jewish custom. The angel between Mary and Joseph isn't actually a part of this particular set (spoiler: Agony in the Garden), but I guess my angle picked him up. Ah well.
This mystery is the precursor to our celebration of Mass. God gives us (represented by Joseph and Mary) the gift of Himself (Christ). We offer this gift back to the Father through our mediator, the priest, and in turn, God ransoms Himself and we are thus blessed to have Him eternally. God is a master at foreshadowing!
This set of statues was interesting because St. Joseph was noticeably missing. The Blessed Mother, looking quite haggard (but again, her hands in prayer as she offers even this terror to God in accordance with His Will) is present, but St. Joseph is nowhere to be found. This is likely due to budgeting constraints, but I noticed it immediately. The scribes were dutifully paying attention to the Christ-child who looked incredibly regal standing on his pedestal teaching them about Himself (the Word of God, fully incarnate). Of course, again the master of foreshadowing, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple was looking forward to the Resurrection. Christ went "missing" during the Paschal feast. It took His parents three days to "find" Him again.
Cistercian Monastery I: Intro
I had no idea about this little monastery until I chanced upon it after a play date a few weeks ago. I drove by, did a double take, made a U-turn, and decided to poke around in case they were welcoming to visitors.
This is what greeted me when I drove up the path:
After following the winding path up a ways, I saw what looked to be a school next to a gorgeously maintained park. I saw a woman jogging through the park, so I figured that was as good a place as any to park and look around.
As I pulled Vince from the car, I noticed that the sprawling park had a whole bunch of statues in it. The first one looked an awful lot like the Annunciation. The sign confirmed my growing, giddy suspicion:
Included in this garden are the three traditional mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious. Given this garden was likely developed before the Luminous Mysteries were introduced, you can forgive their absence.
But sit back, because you're in for a real treat. Vincent and I enjoyed ourselves so much that we walked through the garden twice, each time visiting and talking about each mystery and praying for the donors' intentions. What a treasure we found!
This place is called the Cisterian Monstary of Our Lady of Fatima. Since I apparently went in the back entrance, here's the view from the front (which I caught on the way out):
If you're ever near Mt. Laurel, NJ - do yourselves the favor and do a drive-by! Totally worth your time!
I'm Blog Logged!
We've all been there. Great ideas pop into our heads just as we're drifting off to sleep, shampooing our hair or driving through traffic. They'll come to us precisely when we're least able to jot them down so they don't escape us forever.
It's so frustrating!!!
Worse, you'll be able to pin down the idea long enough to flesh it out, but you end up not having the time (or motivation) to finally sit down and get it all out. I feel like that's been the story of my life for the last few months.
Some topics that I've been wanting to cover:
These, among a few others, have been floating about in my mind, but I just haven't made the time to really sit down to write them out.
So I'm going to try to do a little better the next few weeks. Hopefully I'll give myself the chance to finally get these off my blogging plate. :)
How do you guys manage to keep the creative juices flowing when you're running around like a crazy person?
Novus Ordo and Tridentine Masses
I just about lost my mind via cellphone the other day. I did precisely what I just promised I'd try not to do in this entry.
If there's one thing that can set me off, it's the whole "Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine Mass" thing that has people on both sides of the aisle crying out with indignation.
I had originally titled this entry Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine Masses, but then I realized I was fueling the fire even more. Why must there be a "versus" in there all the time?
I've never attended a Tridentine Mass. Ever since coming back to the Church, I've wanted to. I follow blogs that support the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass) in the hopes that should I ever build up enough courage, I won't make a complete fool of myself the first time I attend.
From all I understand about a Tridentine Mass, I know I'll love it. I see its value and know it's a necessary balm for our aching Church.
That being said, I don't see why I have to trounce the Novus Ordo in order to appreciate the beauty of the TLM.
Why can't we accept that both forms of the Mass accomplish this:
Which encapsulates both this
Now I fully understand that liturgical abuses have abounded within the NO (Novus Ordo), but that does not mean that the NO is completely without merit.
It doesn't mean that a NO Mass is invalid and those who worship at NO Masses aren't really Catholic.
Those sorts of statements are vicious, uncharitable, an incredibly arrogant.
And I shot back stating as much.
I mean, I didn't even know that a TLM existed in the present day until I had my reversion. I didn't know that there were still priests (and laity) who prayed in Latin and celebrated Mass ad orientem (priest facing the tabernacle) vs. ad populum (priest facing the people with his back to the tabernacle, and thus, Christ). That was all super new to me!
Should I be labelled non-Catholic because I was ignorant that "the old Mass" still existed?
Also, what of the folks who simply don't have TLMs available in their vicinity (through absolutely no fault of their own)? Should they, too, be labelled as something less than Catholic because their only mode of celebrating the Paschal Mystery is through the Novus Ordo Mass?
I'm all for having the TLM alive and well in every parish in the world. I really am. However, I'm not okay with constantly being made to feel inferior because I accept the NO Mass as a valid form of worship. And this inferiority complex is being forced on me by my fellow Catholics!
I just don't understand this vitriol. I really don't. I love that there are folks out there who are passionate about bringing back the TLM. I'm happy that there is a drive to educate Catholics of their roots and the beauty of our original liturgy. I am grateful that blogs like Fr. Z's What Does the Prayer Really Say go out of their way to highlight the original prayers and expound on the prayerful insights and spiritual education that can be found within them.
I really do.
However, within this same group of passionate, driven people are those who take their zeal to the point of arrogance. They wish to trample charity in the name of propping up the TLM. They are precisely the reason I feel ill-equipped to attend a TLM. I'm afraid of riling anger from kneeling at the wrong spot, misspeaking Latin, or even wearing the wrong color veil.
I am absolutely certain that most folks who attend the TLM wouldn't treat me poorly for learning to crawl my way through a TLM. I'm sure many of them would jump at the chance to help me learn to walk until eventually I was confident in my celebration of a TLM in union with them. However, I've come across enough "bad apples" that I simply don't want to deal with the arrogant chastisement for the litany of mistakes I'm sure I'd make.
Maybe that's my own insecurity talking. Maybe I'm even trying to make excuses for not attending the TLM. The truth is, though, that there really are enough folks out there who have trounced me and my defense of NO Masses that I have been scared off TLMs for the time being. I'm not part of their "holier than thou" club. I'm not spiritually enlightened. I'm not theologically justified in my abhorrence of all things Vatican II.
That makes me sad, because like I said before, I KNOW there are plenty of loving proponents of the TLM who would happily endure my mistakes and patiently teach me the ways of our beautiful liturgy. Until I find one close enough to me who I feel comfortable enough to rely on, though, I'm steering clear.
In the meantime, however, I'll continue to defend the NO Mass as a valid way of celebrating the Paschal Mystery. No amount of human error is going to detract from the efficacy of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection.
All three of my cats think they're human. Maybe it's because we've had them since they were itty-bitty kittens found clinging to life in a drain pipe. Maybe it's because we've spoiled them absolutely rotten. Maybe it's because they're cats and they simply think they own the place anyway. Regardless, all three of my cats (Piper, Zoey and Lucy) see no issue with climbing into bed with us, attempting to sit next to us on a dining room chair as we eat as a family, or plant themselves firmly on the couch with us as we watch TV.
Obviously I love my little furbabies. I'm a die-hard animal lover who has fostered more than 70 of them since moving to Jersey in 2007. I've spent sleepless nights nursing them back from the brink of death, I've cried over heartbreaking medical prognoses, and I even carried Zoey around in a sling - directly next to me or sitting on my work desk - for more than a month as her legs healed from a terrible accident.
That all being said, I still do not place these three cuddle-balls into the same arena as Vincent or Myla. I love my cats - to the point of stupid - but I don't place human dignity on their shoulders.
Should a fire break out and I'm forced to save Vince or Lucy, I'm going to save Vince. When someone asks me how many children I have, I don't list Vince, Myla and then my three cats.
Yet the Pope's recent message to married couples about having children (and not pets) apparently ruffled more than a few feathers. Even in the comments of the linked article, people who supposedly "loved" the Pope turned their nose up in disgust at this particular message.
Given the amount of couples opting for pets vs. children these days, it's no surprise some would walk away from his remarks feeling called out.
Now, before I continue, no one (I repeat - NO ONE) is calling out infertile couples, couples struggling with serious chromosomal issues, or even couples who are truly not called to be parents (and I do believe there is a very small population of people who are simply not meant to be parents).
The pope is, however, calling out folks who are seeking to continue a life of self-centered irresponsibility.
Adults don't make children; children make adults. This is so incredibly true. After all, nothing says "responsibility" like taking on the care of someone wholly dependent on you for everything (every moment, of every day).
This sort of responsibility shapes a person and forces him/her to see the world from another's perspective. It demands sacrifice. It demands COMPLETE sacrifice.
In our culture, this level of self-sacrifice is avoided like the Plague. Having a baby will ruin weekend plans for, like... ever, right? And who wants to deal with sleepless nights, potty training and vomit in your hair?
I know you guys have seen me write about this a billion times, so I'm going to try really hard not to beat the dead horse, but I'm just so incredibly sick of children being seen as roadblocks to happiness.
They're not. They are happiness and love personified (in the truest sense of the word).
No amount of pet-responsibility comes close to that which a human child presents. I should know. I've had more than my share of pets, and not one (not even Zoey) compares to a child. That being said, not one of the 70+ animals that have come through my doors have helped me to grow as a person the way that Vincent has. Not one has given me fulfillment in the way that Vincent has. Not one animal has given me joy, happiness and love in the way that Vincent has. And not one has deepened my relationship with God in the way that Vincent has.
So no - for all those folks out there who want to run around claiming Fido is your child, just stop. The only people who think its cute are those who, themselves, are terrified of taking on responsibility for future generations.
As you can see, I talk to my cats (I'll have full-on conversations with them), I love my cats, and I consider them "furbabies" because they have me wrapped around their adorable little paws, but again... they're no substitute for children. Yet so many couples use them as the "next step" in their marriage... as if keeping a goldfish alive is somehow proving grounds for their ability (and desire) to parent.
It's just... ay.
It's incredible to me that society has created this sort of mindset regarding children. I really am baffled by it.
I know not all people are as desirous of children as I am, but to substitute pets as a realistic replacement???
The pope is right on this. Married couples who want to solidify their sacramental marriage would do best to allow their love to create a tangible symbol of that love - truly personified - that not only grows and changes with them through the years, but HELPS them grow, change and love more deeply than they ever thought possible.
After all, that's what marriage is all about. White dresses, cake, toasts and favors are temporary. Creating a person (and with that person, a soul) is forever. That child will FOREVER be a lasting testament to your love. Forever.
Fido, Sparky or Chuckles will never be able to claim that.
While I was at the park with Vince today, he walked up behind a toddler on a swing and tried to push her so she could go higher. The toddler's grandmother said, "Aren't you a nice little boy! You must be a big brother, huh? Do you have a little sister that you push on swings?"
It's doubtful Vince actually processed her question, but he answered, "Yes" just the same. My heart didn't break so much as sigh at the sight of him trying to be brotherly to this little girl.
The truth is, I don't speak to Vincent about Myla. I'm not sure he'd understand anyway. He still confuses familial terms like "brother" and "sister" for "son" or "daughter." That's okay, though. One day he'll know he's got a little sister in Heaven waiting for him.
A reader who has experienced miscarriage asked me if I spoke about Myla to anyone outside my circle of close friends. The truth is, I don't actually speak about Myla to anyone - not even on the blog so much anymore.
It's not that I don't think about her every day; I do. It's not that I don't still feel intense emotions about her short life; I do. Just the other day, I saw that show Say Yes to the Dress and when one of the brides-to-be said "Yes" and her mom, all teary-eyed from seeing her daughter dressed up in her bridal attire, hugged and kissed her,k I felt the pang of loss in realizing I'd never have that moment with Myla. I allowed my heart to clench into itself as it braced for the tsunami of anger, grief and frustration that would slowly fade to resignation, acceptance and even appreciation.
But I dunno. I still feel awkward bringing her up. I'm not embarrassed by her or my experience. I'm not ashamed. I am, however, unwilling to open myself up to public scrutiny, I guess. I'm unsure of my ability to handle the emotions of others (sorrow, awkwardness, pity, frustration) while still juggling my own. So rather than attempt, I remain silent. I don't speak of her to John, to my mother, not even to my closest friends.
Mind you, I'm sure I could should the absolute need arise, but I haven't felt that driving necessity in a long time. I am thankful for that.
However, I'd like to single out two friends who've given me incredible gifts: Theresa and Lien.
And yeah, I'm posting your pictures. :)
You guys have seen me talk about Theresa a few times. She's the one who has the obsession with pink (and purses). She's also the mother of that beautiful little munch above, Maddy. She and I have been together since Freshman year of HS when I invited her to my lunch table because I was sick of eating by myself. I even feigned interest in the Backstreet Boys (had NO idea who they were at the time) in an effort to drum up conversation.
Anyway, Theresa had just had Maddy when I went through the miscarriage. Like everyone else, she found out about it through the blog because, quite frankly, I couldn't physically have that conversation out loud. I still feel like a coward that my good friends (and mother) had to find out in that manner, but truthfully it was the only mode of communication I had at the time.
Anyway, as soon as Theresa read the blog, she reached out to me. She sent me a quick message via FB just to let me know she was there in support. It wasn't this massive production - just a brief communication that let me know someone was out there grieving with me. I wasn't alone in my sorrow.
That meant so much to me.
And since then, Theresa's been the only friend who has openly mentioned her in passing. I'm always slightly taken aback by how easily she slips her into conversation. She isn't afraid to use Myla's name. She doesn't seem skittish to bring her up out of the blue. That sort of acknowledgement of my precious little girl is actually bringing tears to my eyes as I type this.
So thank you. Each and every time you did it, I was blessed. It may have seemed small or even insignificant, but to me, someone who has been starved of any sort of acknowledgement that she existed at all, it was the most comforting, gratifying gift.
This is Lien. I know Lien through her sister, Xuan. I love both of them immensely, but through the years, Lien and I have grown closer simply due to our shared love of family and terrible jokes. At least that's why I think she keeps me around.
Anyway, she only recently learned of Myla's existence. She, too, read the blog and reached out.
I had originally shared my blog for very different reasons, but I knew she'd come across the entries about Myla. I told her I trusted her with the information, because I wouldn't have given her the web address otherwise.
She scheduled a time to meet (a rarity for us due to where we live and the hours we work). I knew she'd touch on my miscarriage, but I thought the crux of the conversation would center on why I'd sent her the blog in the first place. While we did talk about that for a bit, she was insistent on discussing Myla (and her disdain for John's handling of things - ha ha). Good old Lien. Fiesty as hell when she wants to be.
When she brought up Myla, as I knew she would, I tried to make it as painless as possible for her. An awkward conversation knowing how upsetting the experience was for me, I didn't want her to feel bad or like she'd upset me, so I was very matter-of-fact about everything. Lawyerly, if you will.
What she did made me really stop in my tracks, though. I was eating, trying to keep the conversation going so there weren't any awkward pauses, but she reached over and grabbed my greasy hand. She looked me square in the eye and forced me to shut up for a hot second while she said, "No. This is important. It's a big deal what happened. I'm really, really sorry. I cried while reading everything. I'm really sorry."
That was powerful. I dunno if Lien realized it, but it was powerful. She not only gave permission for me to publicly grieve, but demanded the right to experience it alongside me.
She also reprimanded me - rightly - for disenfranchising her of that right by keeping my miscarriage a secret all this time.
Well played, Lien. Well played.
I appreciated that more than you realize.
This grainy picture from my wedding is probably the last one I have of Theresa, Lien and I together. They don't really know one another outside of me. I wonder if they've even thought about each other in the years since they were my bridesmaids. It's funny to think of that.
Both of them have given me incredible gifts by extending themselves in such a generous, loving way. I didn't think I needed (or could even cope with) such displays of charity.
I appreciate all my friends - I really do. This particular entry isn't about guilting others or soliciting Myla conversations from anyone else. I simply wanted to recognize and extend public appreciation for the unique and incredibly special gifts Theresa and Lien gave, completely unprovoked, to let me know they love me, grieve with me, and hope with me for the future.
I love you guys. Thank you so much for being amazing friends to me. I appreciate it more than words could ever express.
God's Little Helpers
Vince was "helping" me in the kitchen the other day.
He's been doing this a lot more frequently. He'll grab a kitchen chair, drag it to the counter, and start doing any number of things that "help" me.
Now as every parent knows, help from a 4 year old is rarely help. Usually it's a sure sign your two-minute prep is about to become a 15-minute circus show of you trying to keep him from burning himself on the stove, stop him from reaching for a knife, begging him not to dance on the chair, and assuring him that the pasta doesn't need Cinnamon Toast Crunch added to the sauce.
However, we grin and bear these annoyances because, quite frankly, it's really sweet that our kid wants to help. It's wonderful that our children love us and want to be near us, even braving the sweltering heat of the kitchen and the annoying sound of the exhaust fan. It's a beautiful thing that our kids want to feel like a needed and necessary part of the family, and it's even more beautiful that we've done something right to get them to express that (by dumping cereal into your pot roast; I gotta move that stuff to a higher shelf).
That being said, Vince was being particularly "helpful" that afternoon. I almost sent him into the living room to wait for lunch because I was getting frustrated. Terrible, right? But it's the truth. Sometimes having a 4 year old's "help" is frustrating.
Before I gave the order for him to plant his butt on the couch, a little voice whispered in my ear, "You are the same."
The thought came and went so fast I actually stopped smearing peanut butter on the bread and pondered it a second.
"You are the same."
I'm an annoying kid pulling butter knives from the dishwasher?
As I thought on it more, I realized that in many ways, I am like Vince at the dishwasher. I love God and want to help Him out, but does God really need my help? No. My version of help is only going to result in Him cleaning up after me. However, God doesn't get frustrated that my pathetic offerings of help muck up His groove. Instead, He patiently allows me to try - over and over again - giving me pointers on how to better do the job of helping Him. In this way, I grow and mature until I am eventually able to offer help that is worthwhile.
The reflection was humbling.
I did not send Vincent to the couch. Instead, I taught him how to properly put the silverware away (which you can see him doing above). I snapped this picture because it was an eye-opening moment for me.
How incredible the lessons of parenthood. We are called, as parents, to exemplify the love of the Father. And in this, God is leading the way, briliantly choosing to use our own children as examples of His Love.
Why All the In-Fighting?
This has been on my heart for a while, and I honestly don't even know where to begin.
Like many of my fellow bloggers, I've been debating closing shop and stepping away from the blogging world indefinitely. A well-timed award from the lovely Anabelle Hazard (thank you, my love!) gave me pause, but after the dust-up over on Simcha Fisher's Facebook page that turned a large group of Catholics against one another, I really felt the need to take a step back and reflect on what is happening amongst my family.
'Cause that's what you guys are. You're my family. And whether you, Simcha Fisher, the folks at LifeSiteNews, or even my Protestant buddy whom I lovingly refer to as a "heathen" (he retorts just as lovingly with "papist") realize it, we are ALL members of the Body of Christ. We're all Children of God and we're all offered the inheritance of eternal life.
However, just as we're all offered this awesome and divine gift, we're also called to not be total jerks to one another. All this in-fighting is caused by arrogance, pure and simple.
And yes, we can all succumb to arrogance. Lord knows I struggle with that one hardcore. Point is, we need to really reflect on this particular brand of arrogance, because it's arrogance disguised as theological elucidation.
It is not charitable direction; it is arrogance.
We must stop using our words to cut down one another. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and it's time we start acting like it.
This in-fighting over Vatican II, over Pope Francis' legitimacy, over Communion in-hand or on the tongue, over every other contrived differences that folks are getting bent out of shape over needs to STOP.
And it stops with you. It stops with me. It stops with anyone who writes blogs, comments on blogs, reads blogs, moderates threads / forums, speaks about the Faith.
STOP attacking your brothers and sisters. STOP hurling accusations, insinuations, and snide comments at one another, especially in such a public fashion. Don't allow comments like this to appear on platforms you moderate. Do not allow comments like this to slide.
You have the power to delete. You have the power to privately admonish. Exercise them!
You also have the power to set the example for others to follow. I, for one, will do my best to use this blog to further the unity of Christians under the banner of Truth. Why? Because one day, we know that every single one of us will be together again under the same banner, and if we're not working towards that end, we're obviously doing something inherently wrong.
Thus, before you press the "Publish," "Respond," "Send," or "Detonate" button, ask yourself if your words seek to unify rather than divide... to comfort rather than condemn... to shine Christ's light or to snuff it out.
I'm not saying you should accept that which cannot be accepted (women priests, homosexual marriage, abortion, Black Masses), but I am saying that you need to reflect if your response to these things is aimed at guiding a lost soul back to Christ or lording your knowledge of doctrine over someone in an attempt to paint yourself as pure and saintly.
We are called to evangelize. This onslaught of in-fighting is not what Mother Church had in mind.
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