I am a Teacher
I am a teacher.
It's funny how that came about. Growing up, I respected all of my teachers. Maybe it's because my mother (also a teacher) instilled that virtue into each of us repeatedly. Maybe it's because we saw the abuse teachers dealt with first hand and pitied them immensely. I don't know. It was probably a combination. Anyway, all I know is that growing up, I NEVER wanted to be a teacher. Never. I would laugh when people would say to me, "Gina, you're a really good teacher" or "One day, you'll be in front of the classroom, too." I'd scoff at the idea, never imagining myself 'un-important' enough to organize an army of brats on a daily basis. The truth was, though, that I was terrified of the idea. My mom was a teacher (still is)... and an amazing one at that. I didn't think I was capable of wrangling students and being entrusted with inspiring (successfully) a life-time zest for learning, and then be compared to her effortless ability to do so. Eeps, even the thought now makes me skittish.
I have always enjoyed explaining things... figuring out crafty solutions to embed information so deeply into someone's mind that they can't help but remember it with a smile. For class presentations, I'd be elected the main speaker, I'd be the one with a full-on lesson plan for my 5 minute discourse on the planet Mars, and I'd be the kid playing "school" in the summers (vainly trying to get my younger sisters to stop chatting and learn their ABCs).
Yup... I had all the makings of "teacher" but never wanted to admit it to myself or anyone else. Like I said, the thought terrified me.
Anyway, my first job out of college proved God had other ideas. It was, of course, a teaching one. My job was to tutor children Pre-K through 12the grade and help run the business aspects of a respected learning center. I quickly rose through the ranks and found myself the "principal" of one of these centers. I was honored with a distinguished "Educator" award among peers in my region, and I was constantly being invited to PTA meetings to provide workshops for both parents and teachers.
Within 3 short years, however, my employer and I parted ways. They were closing down many centers in our region and I didn't agree with their business model anymore (money-focused, not kid-focused). So I moved on. My services were requested at my old elementary school. A 7th grade teacher was out for the month, so I happily filled in, a little nervous about trying on the uniform of "teacher."
W.O.W. Since I was a substitute... not a "real" teacher in their minds, I was like fresh meat thrown into a tank of piranhas. However, they learned pretty fast that I wasn't to be trifled with. I have no fear of calling parents, assigning ridiculous amounts of homework, or turning free-gym into an hour-long session of learning how to walk in a straight line (with school bags full of text books). Within a week, they were acting like a decent, organized, and somewhat respectful classroom (though I could still hear "bitch" every now and again... little did they know I wore it as a badge of pride).
Even before the end of my month (and after two surprise visits by the principal and vice principal), they sat me down and asked that I stay on as a full-time teacher. Again, at this point, I still didn't "get" that I was really a teacher. I felt that PART of me was a teacher, but the other part was a savvy business woman who had run several educational centers successfully for clients who simply happened to be students she cared very much about.
Boy aren't I stupid?
I respectfully declined. In fact, I had already been offered another position that would allow me to spend my weeks working from home. Not surprisingly, it was from another business promoting academic excellence. I was convinced they wanted me for my business sense (considering the work I had done turning around several of my original centers). Within a few months, that job turned into a nightmare, and my husband was asking me to begin working with him and his family. For years I had turned down his requests for this. I just couldn't see working with family EVER being a good idea. I happen to love my husband's family, and I was scared to death of that dynamic somehow being messed up by our daily interactions. But I finally gave in, seeing that I was unhappy where I was. At least with John I'd be able to stretch my business legs again.
Again, I realize I'm about as stupid as they come. But don't worry... I've got a trifecta on that a little later.
I began working with John's family. I absolutely SUCKED. I mean, I've gained more appreciation for the most unassuming material in the world (let's call it Product X) in one week than I have in my entire existence using it (and I've used Product X, in many forms, my entire life). I mean, if Product X were a food, it'd be corn. I'm not kidding. Check the link.
So anyway, I'm not a dumb person. I've never had to study, and I've never really had trouble grasping even the most difficult theoretical concepts. But this? This most basic and taken-for-granted-commodity? You'd think someone was trying to teach me quantum physics, in Greek, using two cans and a string from Mars while I sat at my desk here in the USA.
No matter how hard I try, no matter how many times I read something, have it explained to me, walk through it, take tutorials, etc... none of it makes sense. I felt (eh, and still do feel) like a total failure who disappointed not just my husband, but his whole family. Stellar, right?
After I delivered my son, Vince, I spent a year away from work. I focused solely on survival (ha!). Seriously, though, it was tough work, and I thanked God every day for the blessing of being able to stay home with him. However, when the 12 months came to an end, I knew I should attempt getting back into work. I wanted Vince to enter daycare for socialization, and I didn't want to be sitting at home twiddling my thumbs all day, so I picked back up with my husband's family.
This time, I told myself, I was gonna throw myself into it a million times harder. I was gonna create a manual, I was gonna ask everyone even MORE questions, and damnit... I was gonna figure this OUT.
See? Trifecta of Stupid. Someone, somewhere, probably could've made a whole lotta money off my lack of faith and intelligence.
Within a few months, I realized I was stuck in the same baffling place. NOTHING made sense, and even when I suddenly thought I understood something, a rug was pulled out from under me, proving that I didn't know the first thing about what I thought I did. It was no one's fault but my own. I became super discouraged and felt horrible that I was pretty much making others' jobs more difficult since they had to pick up the slack for my ignorance. Finally, I begged my superior to give me a different task... ANYTHING that wasn't Product X. So he did, and I've been much happier. Sure, I still screw things up when it comes to Product X, but at least I'm not involved with it on a regular basis, which frees up others from having to fix my repeated errors. In my current capacity, I'm able to help my direct superior with his job, and that makes me feel better. If I could, I'd do everything for that guy... he's such a sweetheart. :)
But I digress...
It took this almost 3 year tug-of-war to finally appreciate the fact that I am, in fact, meant to teach. No matter how much I run from it, no matter how much I deny it, the truth remains evident. I'm a teacher. My heart and soul belong in teaching. I mean, I feel like God just turned off a switch in my mind and said, "No... you're not gonna learn Product X, 'cause if you do, you're gonna stay there forever and that's NOT what I want you to be doing. Now listen to Me!" And as if to seal my suspicion with a uppercut to the face, God sent Sr. Jean (the Religious Education coordinator from my parish) to me with a very straightforward request after I had spoken at a conference. The conference, mind you, had NOTHING to do with education. She had just assumed I was a teacher by the way I spoke and 'worked the room.'
She asked if I'd be willing to teach 6th grade CCD.
Shoot, really, God? HECK YES! I almost backflipped at the opportunity after tending to my nervous anxiety that I would fail horribly and send the kids on a path to Hell.
So anyway, with this life-line in place, I'm reclaiming the lost part of who I am... the part I've denied for my whole life, but the part that I am now most proud of.
At our meeting last night, one of the other teachers asked me, "So, when did you decide you were gonna be a teacher?" I have no idea why, but it was like time stopped and my mind flashed back to my 1st year of college. I was working at Circuit City in the camcorder department. One of my managers saw me "up-selling" a camcorder to a customer, making sure he had not only the camera, but the warranty, cassettes, tripod and case. I also explained why he'd want the DV model vs. the VHS / Hi-8 models that'd pretty much be out-dated within the year (boy does that age me, or what?).
After I completed the sale, my manager looked at me and said, "You're gonna be a teacher someday."
As usual, I laughed and said, "Not in a million years."
She replied, "You watch. You can explain stuff that wouldn't make sense any other way. You know what they need better than they do and explain it to them. You teach them."
I just shook my head and walked away, making some stupid comment about trying to hit a quota.
But what she said struck a chord and it has stayed with me all these years. A seed was planted and when my new teacher-friend asked me that question, I saw the flower of that seed, triumphant, saying (in Peggy's voice) "I told you so."
So yes... dang it. I'm a teacher, even despite myself. :)
Pieces of my Broken Heart
I love them, Lord. You know I love them. I love them with every fiber of my being, and I would sacrifice just about anything for them. So if this is what You request of me, fine, I accept.
I willingly hand them over to You. They are Yours. I will walk away, but You take good, special care of them. Help me to relinquish my claims over them and offer even my bitterness and solitude as a means for this victory.
But seriously... I know I don't need to ask this of You. You know best for everyone, everything and at all times. I'll make my request again anyway. Take good, special care of them. I give them to You, so I'm expecting miracles. Amen.
St. Anthony and my Veil
Whew! Another huge one. I couldn't help myself, today. I found this cartoon and you couldn't smack the smile off my face if you tried. *Grin*
This past weekend, I realized that my favorite chapel veil was missing. I knew I had placed it in a bag with 30 other things as I was clearing my car out, but after my husband's party, everything was gone and I was afraid that he'd tossed the bag into the recycling. So I asked St. Anthony if he'd be so kind as to condescend to help me find it. In fact, I said the typical "St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around, my chapel veil is lost and I'd appreciate it being found." I also added, "But if you're too busy, I totally understand. It's only a chapel veil, and I can buy another one if I have to."
I didn't have time to look for the veil (since I was on my way to Mass), but a few hours later, I decided to tackle the recycling bin. I only did it half-heartedly, though, once more repeating the St. Anthony prayer. Considering the rain we got, I figured even if I found it, buried beneath all the trash, it'd be beyond ruined. So I gave up and went back inside.
Very late that night, John and I were finishing up a movie. I asked him to pause it because we were nearing midnight and I wanted to get in my nightly prayer. So he paused it and I locked myself away for the Divine Mercy chaplet. Upon completion, I went to the bathroom so I'd be able to sit through the rest of the film. In front of me, sitting on the edge of the tub, was a bag. Inside the bag was MY bag... the one I had been looking for... and inside that was my chapel veil.
I burst out of the bathroom victorious saying, "Thank you, St. Anthony! John, look! St. Anthony found it! I gave up, but he didn't! Thank you, St. Anthony! You're so awesome!"
Even John grinned. Normally, he's pretty dismissive of my religious talk, but I think even he was mildly amused that this "great saint" would bother to help a random chick find something as silly as a veil.
I think that's part of the miracle of St. Anthony, though. He truly IS a great Saint, but he humbles himself so as to become patron of the most ridiculous things. He takes care of such seemingly insignificant tasks, and as promised, God has exhalted him above many others for such humility. St. Anthony is one of the best known saints, and we have his humility and willing intercession to thank for such generosity. :)
Why I Love My Pastor
***So I ended up editing this message and mailing it to my Pastor. Why? because our priests deserve to know what we're thinking of them. Not only when we're unhappy, but when we're happy, too. Happy coincidence, he got it on his birthday. Ha.
I sent it anonymously, though. I still can't help but be a little on the shy side. <Blush>***
So I'm totally in love with the above picture, and I'm glad I found it, because it's exactly the sentiments I had after participating in the Mass this past weekend. Everyone on the East Coast was in a tizzy over Hurricane Irene, but Father Piotr was completely calm, collected and even jovial. I seriously love our pastor. He's gentle, wonderful, and thoughtful. He's also very prudent, kind and generous.
Anyway, he gave a wonderful homily, injected with common sense, chiding, and gentle humor. During the consecration, he knelt reverently and I wistfully noted that for many other priests, this motion was an automatic gesture... something that was barely thought about, just done because, well... that's what "the Red" said to do.
Fr. Piotr, though... he always seems to take his time kneeling before the now consecrated Host. I truly believe he always acknowledges Christ upon the altar and through his actions encourages us to better understand this as well.
During the Eucharistic Procession, Fr. Piotr handled his line of communicants and quickly moved to the next line as his fizzled out. I again smiled, feeling elated that he was proud of his calling to minister to his people. He didn't just retreat to the sanctuary to begin cleaning the chalice and pattens. No, no. He moved to where he saw a need and filled the space, bringing Christ to his flock.
Finally, at the end of Mass, Father Piotr made a couple amusing announcements to help allay fears and dispell confusion surrounding Sunday's mass schedule. Since everything was up in the air due to the storm (tornado warnings, hurricane conditions, power outages, etc), he said the following:
"Some of you have asked me about the mass schedule. A lot, actually. Who am I? God?"
To this, everyone laughs, because during his homily, he brought up last week's Gospel, in which Jesus asked the apostles "Who do you think that I am?" St. Peter, of course, replied "You are the Son of the Living God."
Anyway, he continued:
"At this point, the schedule remains as normal. But please be prudent. If you see cars or trees or other things flying around, stay home. For the safety of yourselves and others. Check in on those who may be alone and scared. If it happens that no one is here when I come to say Mass, rest assured that I will say it - by myself - for all of you."
I think my heart melted into my shoes at that point. Father Piotr... good and saintly Father Piotr. I could imagine him there, offering the Mass for his parishoners and all those affected by the storm. And he would, too, piously, humbly, praying that God would accept this sacrifice on behalf of those unable to offer it with him.
My heart was so happy and alive with the deepest affection for him at that. I wanted to hug him after Mass, but since he was being pulled in thirty separate directions, I shyly nodded a "Hello" and simply made my way into the rain and headed home.
I sometimes feel so embarrassed for these feelings of affection. They are in no way unchaste. I just truly believe Fr. Piotr (and all priests, really) are hand-chosen by Christ. And the wonderful men who carry their vocations proudly make my heart swell with unspeakable love and gratitude. They, after all, enable me to participate in the Eucharist. They are the ones who offer me a bridge to Heaven... to the forgiveness of Penance. They, too, are the ones who offer me the consolation of Last Rites and a Catholic burial.
Say a prayer for these wonderful men. They truly are saintly beings called to walk a path separate from all the world. It is a difficult, lonely road, so offer prayers for their consolation and joy... also strength to follow the path with faithfulness and love.
Rosary IV: Hail Mary
Hail Mary, Full of Grace!
We echo the most majestic greeting given to Our Lady by the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation. This greeting (reserved for royalty!) reminds us that we are addressing our prayer to the Queen of Heaven and Earth - of Love, Truth and Mercy Incarnate. She is full of Grace Itself as God takes refuge within her most holy womb.
The Lord is With Thee.
The angel, understanding this, awaited her "Fiat." As soon as she uttered her humble, trusting acceptance of God's plan, no doubt he knelt before her, adoring not the Blessed Mother, but the Child she then accepted into herself through the Holy Spirit. God had always surrounded this humble Virgin. He always resided joyfully within her heart and soul. Now, He took physical shape within her body, and henceforth they became inseparable in a wholly unique way.
Blessed are Thou Amongst Women
Here we are faced with the words given to Our Lady by both Angel Gabriel and her cousin, Elizabeth, during the first moments of the Visitation. Elizabeth, deeply moved by the Holy Spirit, cries out the Divine Revelation that Mary, her young cousin, unknown to any man, was the dignified spouse of God spoken of in Psalm 45, verse 17: I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever. Indeed, the Blessed Mother acknowledges her blessings once more through her Magnificat in stating "All generations shall call me blessed."
And Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus.
Ah, here we are at the exact center of the prayer. Who do we find? Jesus. After all, Jesus is at the center of all Mary is. Her very existence is to both bring Jesus into the world, and bring the world back into Jesus. Thus, at the center of even her most revered prayer, Jesus is the foundation on which it is built. Jesus was the reason for the angel's majestic greeting. Jesus was the reason for Elizabeth's inspired emotion. And it is through Mary's intercession that we hope to reach the heart of Jesus.
Yet we are also reminded that Jesus is both God and Man. He is, after all, a product of both God (the power of the Holy Spirit) and Man (through the Blessed Mother's physical bearing and tending). Thus, it is fitting to call Jesus the Blessed Fruit of HER womb. For as much as God did to create Himself within her, she also did her part in ensuring He grew and was born into the world safely.
Holy Mary, Mother of God
We acknowledge her unique place as Queen Mother (a topic I could devote several blog entries to!), and in doing so, trust that our next request is placed in capable and loving hands.
Pray for us Sinners now and at the Hour of Death.
Like children lost and in need of help, we turn to our Heavenly Mother for guidance and assistance. We understand that, as the Mother of God, her intercession is strong. She is not to be swayed, and knowing how much she loves her Son... how much she, too, sacrificed for the salvation of humanity, God cannot say "No" to her. Nor would He, as her intentions always reside peacefully within His Will.
The word "amen" is a Hebrew word meaning "Have faith and believe." Once we adopted this word for Christian use, we taped it onto the end of our prayers to add conviction. The "Amen" places our stamp of firm conviction on the Hail Mary, reaffirming our beliefs that the statements we make (and all the nuances they carry) are true. So true, in fact, that we would be willing to stake our lives on their validity.
Rosary III: Jesus-Centric
I love this picture of Our Lady. She's cradling the Infant Jesus in her arms. Protective. Loving. Yet she isn't looking at Him (though her attention to His every need is unwavering). Instead, she is looking at all of us, beckoning with her maternal eyes to come. She is saying, "Come, my children. Come to me and see the Gift that I hold for you. Come to me and I shall share with you my most Perfect and Beautiful Son. He is God and Mercy, Love and Truth. Come to me, and I shall share Him with you."
Oh, how I love this picture! You can see the hay from His manger, and the rocks from the cave at Bethleham in the background. From the earliest moments of His Life, she was there... offering Him to the world. First to St. Joseph, then to the shepherds and wisemen, and perpetually to us.
Anyway, the reason I chose this picture is to explain why the Rosary isn't just a Marian prayer. Mary, as she pointed out in her beautiful "Magnificat," said "My soul doth magnify the Lord." She is nothing of herself, for she understands that she is a reflection of God - a glorious crystal which He has chosen to magnify His Love, Grace and Mercy for all humanity. The same is true of the Rosary. As the wonderful Scott Hahn pointed out once, the Blessed Mother doesn't keep all the prayers of the Rosary to herself. She doesn't revel in the Hail Marys, hoarding them all to herself. She takes each prayer and lovingly offers them to Her Son, who in turn offers them to God the Father.
Remember... the Magnificat was Our Lady's response to her cousin, Elizabeth, at the Visitation. When Elizabeth humbled herself before the Queen of Heaven, feeling unfit to be in the Presence of God and of she who carried God within her womb, Mary gently offered those prayers of humiliation and joy to God through the Magnificat. She took what Elizabeth offered and handed the glory straight-away to God, the true reason for ALL Glory.
So with that in mind, I offer the Rosary as a Christ-centric prayer. A photo album in which Jesus is WHOLLY present in each picture. We begin the Rosary with the Sign of the Cross, Christ's victory over death and sin. Each decade begins with the Our Father. Note, especially, the words "And give us this day our daily bread." Unwittingly, we ask God the Father time and again to grant those graces most necessary for our salvation! God (the Eternal Now) grants us these graces - most notably the Mysteries of the Rosary - through these prayers. He gives us the Nativity... He gives us the Crucifixion... He gives us the Resurrection, Pentecost and even the Coronation! We ask for these things, unwittingly, each time we begin a decade of the Rosary. And then, to complete the circle of thanks, we give glory to the Trinity at the close of each decade with the Glory Be.
And the Haily Mary... oh, let's not forget the Hail Mary. My next entry will be dedicated to this wonderous prayer.
Whoa! Huge picture today, painted by an anonymous Dutch artist from the 1500's. It does, however, make my point quite nicely. The Rosary is, in all actuality, the photo album of Christ. I realized this through my contemplation, and then, almost as confirmation from the Holy Spirit that I was on the right track, heard it on a CD I had picked up about the Rosary. How nice was that?
As I began to pray that first Conversion Rosary, I wanted to REALLY pray it. I didn't want to just run through the words as I did when I was a child. I wanted to REALLY immerse myself in the prayers so I could offer a proper Rosary to Our Lady. So as I prayed each mystery, I tried to place myself in the scene of the decade.
For example, during the Scourging at the Pillar, I imagined not only the Adorable Body of Christ (hanging, limp from pain, exhaustion and loss of Blood), but also of the soldiers tasked with the torture. I pictured them, massive, brutish and possibly gleeful, being goaded into worse and more sinister whippings by the invisible demons that surely surrounded them. I also pictured St. Michael the Archangel, no doubt present as well, barely able to contain his indignation and fury, held back ONLY by the gaze of His God and Master who wished to suffer this agony to save even those who would turn from Him. How St. Michael must have humbled Himself before His God as all others around Him abused and tortured Him.
During the Joyful Mysteries, I'd picture the Blessed Mother during the Annunciation given news that she was to be Mother of God. How utterly confused she must have been! But through her absolute trust in God's Will, she humbled herself (the Queen of Heaven!) before the Angel Gabriel and accepted, once more, the Divine Plan. "Hail Mary!" he said. "Hail Mary" indeed! We may not understand this anymore, being so far removed from the history in which this tiding was first offered, but "Hail" was a term reserved for royalty, something the humble, unknown Virgin of virgins would never dream to hear for herself (let alone hear it from the lips of an angel!). I wonder if all the angels in Heaven were peering down upon her at that moment, falling over one another as they waited to hear the "Fiat" fall from her lips. Could you imagine?
The reason I share these images with you is to help you look at each mystery deeper... as a picture. After all, if this Rosary is a photo album, each decade presents us a picture. Jesus, of course, is at the center of each picture, but look deeper. There are not only the surrounding images of the Blessed Mother, angels, or even sinners. There are background characters that, sometimes, are invisible to us unless we truly contemplate what each picture is showing us.
So I encourage you on your next rosary, really look at each picture. Try to place yourself in the midst of the setting and ask the Holy Spirit to show you things you may have missed, to unlock the treasure of beauty hidded within each scene from Christ's life. It makes the Rosary less of a chore, and more of a reverent, loving reminder of the gifts our God has given us.
The Rosary: Part I
My mind wanders... a lot. In attempting to pray the rosary when I was younger, I'd rush through my words as quickly as possible in order to say everything before I fell asleep. Mostly I was unsuccessful. I'd end up snoozing halfway through the 1st or 2nd decade. Nice, right?
As I noted in my "Reversion" story, I hadn't touched a rosary in years. I simply didn't have the self-discipline to carry out the prayers. They all seemed boring... insurmountable. Don't get me wrong... I still struggle with getting myself started. It's much easier to solicit motivation for the Divine Mercy chaplet. It's less than half the time of a good rosary! But I realized that I was going about the rosary in the wrong way. I remembered a story I had heard as a child. I'll share it with you, because it always stuck with me, gnawing the back of my mind, urging me to offer a similar gift to Our Lady.
An elderly woman lived in the city, and took the bus everywhere. Having no family to rely on, she relied heavily on public transportation for her daily necessities: shopping, salon visits, doctor appointments, and Mass. As a result, she spent a good amount of time waiting for notoriously late buses. To pass the time, she'd pray her rosary, offering each one up to the Blessed Mother for whatever intentions She saw fit to use them for.
One especially dreary day, this woman waded her way through the snow with her rosary in-hand. She saw her bus coming and readied herself to board. Unfortunately, the bus driver hit a patch of dry ice and slid into where she was waiting, killing her instantly.
Before she knew what was happening, she found herself being led to Heaven by her Guardian Angel. Heaven was extremely festive that day... Heaven was celebrating the birth of the Blessed Mother. The angels and saints surrounded Our Lady with the most exquisite gifts. The elderly woman, embarrassed that she had no present to offer, humbly bowed before the Queen and apologized for her lack of offerings. The Blessed Mother smiled and pulled the most beautifully wrapped present of them all from beside her. Placing it on Her magestic lap, she said,"Daughter, the rosaries you've offered to me all these years are more precious to me than any offering given to me today. Each represents intentions dearest to my heart, and they've translated into so many of my children finding their way home to my Son and I. Thank you for your loving generosity."
Ever since hearing that story, I've wanted to go to Heaven with a beautiful box full of rosaries just for Her. As a child, I used to resolve to say one rosary a day... then one a week... then one a month... and so on until I simply gave up saying them altogether. I always felt guilty for my laziness ('cause that's really what it was), but I never really did much to change it... until reading about Our Lady's repeated requests for rosaries earlier this year.
I have no idea what it was, but something in me was deeply touched by this message and I really did resolve to pick up the rosary more often. As I noted before, it had been so long since I'd prayed a rosary that I had to keep the mysteries open in front of me while I prayed for reference. But it's a good thing I did! In that first "Conversion Rosary" I made (Sorrowful Mysteries), I experienced the power of this beautiful prayer. I meditated the moments surrounding each mystery and came away with such a profound appreciation for the Passion that all other aspects of my spiritual life suddenly found themselves lacking. More on that in a later blog.
Anyway, the more I prayed the rosary, the more I contemplated the depth and and beauty of our faith. More importantly, I began to understand (and appreciate) the unfolding of God's Will in everything.
So with that in mind, I'll be starting my Rosary series. I've been itching to write about it for a while, and seems like this week is gearing up to be the perfect opportunity.
That adorable man holding my sleeping son over there is my wonderful husband, John. He turned 30 today!
We had celebrated on Sunday with friends. We held the annual "Meatbar" Competition (think gross hot dogs and even grosser "condiments") and topped off the contest with a surprise pie-ing of John. We amassed a small army of pie-nades which we chucked at him from every angle. Surprisingly, cleanup was simple, and thankfully, no one tracked it back into the house!
Anyway, today was his real birthday, and so we went to dinner with his family (which was entertaining itself courtesy of Vincent's behavior the whole time). Before his dinner, however, we experienced our first earthquake.
Around 1:50pm, our entire office building / warehouse began to sway forcefully back and forth. Knowing that Colorado had just suffered a quake earlier that day, I thought, "No WAY those aftershocks can seriously reach us over here!" As we were shaking, I looked up Earthquake Watch map and saw a red pinpoint in Virginia. "Ohhhhh, so that's what's causing this!" The shaking was just beginning to subside as I picked up the phone to call my son's daycare to find out what protocol they were following for the safey of the kids. When the director picked up, she was audibly upset.
I tried to calmly explain that it was only tremors from the quake in Virginia and that we very likely had nothing to be worried about. She was upset, though! She kept saying that she didn't know what it was and, being from Jersey, had never experienced anything so scary. I guess being from Philly, I've experienced plenty worse than the ground shake a bit. Ha ha. In all seriousness, though, I think just knowing thata quake had happened earlier in the day prepped my mind a bit to grasp the reality of the situation as it unfolded this afternoon.
Anyway, I asked what she planned to do with the kids and she promptly said she was sending everyone home. Alrighty, then... I guess I didn't have to worry about making it to dinner on time with Vince after work anymore. I no longer had to fight rush-hour traffic to get him! Ha ha. Ah well.
I have to admit thinking of these messages while on my way to pick up Vince. Everyone noted that we simply aren't quake-prone, and now with news of Hurricane Irene headed for us, it almost seems like Mother Nature is trying to tell us something. I guess the point is to be ready no matter what the circumstance, huh? :) I'm just happy we're all safe and sound.
Perfection and Stupidity
Feeling like a jerk today. I realize that I'm incredibly hard on my son at times. I dunno why I expect such perfection out of a little boy. He's barely two, and I have such crazy notions of how he should act in public places. I get annoyed when he doesn't share, and more annoyed when he doesn't understand why I'm upset with him for pushing another child away from his toys.
I think this - again - is a pride issue. I don't like that other parents might think of me as a lazy mother who doesn't reprimand her child when he's doing something mean to another kid. I don't like that other folks might think I have a "bad" child who would be better off with some other saintly mother-figure. I also realize that growing up, I had an ultra-strict mother who expected perfection from us as well, and now I'm continuing the cycle of foolishness with my own son. Humpf. :( I feel rotten.
I've tried to temper my frustration more often, but it surprises me how many times throughout the day that I expect Vince to be acting in a way too mature for his age and development level. How in the world do I scrub my mind of these insane expectations??? Why do I even have them in the first place other than prideful arrogance that my child SHOULD be more perfect that anyone else's? Ugh, ugh, ugh. I really do feel rotten for such stupidity, and even more rotten for sometimes acting out on that stupidity by angrily correcting Vincent for something as stupid as tossing his sippy cup off his highchair for the umpteenth time.
Bah... maybe writing about it will help me acknowledge my issue and hold myself accountable better. God only knows I don't want Vince thinking I actually expect perfection from him. Poor little guy. I need to remember... children are not gifts to be molded but presents to be unfolded. :)
Our pastor is back from Poland! After Mass, I finally remembered to bring all of my crucifixes and my new rosary to be blessed. He looked surprised at the amount of articles I had with me and asked, "My, what'd you do? Go on a pilgrimage or something?"
I replied with a chuckle, "Yeah, or something, Father."
He questioned me farther, "Oh? Where did you go on pilgrimage to?"
My response? "Amazon.com, Father."
We both enjoyed ourselves a wonderful laugh, but in truth, so many wonderful signs of our faith can be found online! Amazon.com, Ebay, and of course, our Catholic Supply Shops! :) Gotta love it.
So now I finally - FINALLY - can cross this off my to-do list! Yay!
Grudges, Unforgiveness and Pride
There is a wonderful quote I found tonight while searching out pictures for tonight's entry:
"Holding a grudge is letting someone live, rent-free, in your head."
I love that. I have no idea who originated it, but I love it.
Anyway, I've been struggling for several years with a family grudge that I can't seem to shake. This grudge has seriously been ongoing since I was in grade school.
My older sister and I simply never got along growing up. She's extremely bright, pretty, and extraordinarily hardworking. She's a born people-pleaser, and she's always been super obedient regarding my mother. So growing up, I always felt as if, compared to her, I wasn't as smart, I was definitely gawky and pretty much "bad" (due to my complete lack of regard for obedience).
Anyway, she had her own insecurities as well. I, too, am pretty smart, and never studied the way she did (heck, I rarely studied at all). I wasn't as pretty, but due to my more bubbly personality, I had more boys calling. And though I'm also a born people-pleaser, I was much more rebellious and forced my mother to accept my freedom whereas my sister accepted the gilded tower without complaint. As a result, there was discord... lots and lots of discord.
I think when I was born, she was expecting the golden little sister who would want to be just like her and do all the cool stuff she did. That never happened. I always steered more towards my brother, and I think that irked her. I also always seemed to have more freedom / less stress and that probably seemed very unfair to her. Finally, I was a cocky little sonofagun, and considering her rightful place as smartest, prettiest, and oldest, I really had no right to act in the manner I did (at least in her mind... okay, probably in everyone's mind).
As a result, I think it became her mission to make my life hell. She'd constantly nit-pick at everything I did, report my failings to our mother (true or made-up, mind you), belittle me, or flat out lie to folks about me. This went on from at least 4th grade straight on through until present day. I rarely paid her any attention because I realized that she was miserable and jealous for no valid reason.
While engaged to be married, she'd be on the phone telling folks how stupid I was for getting married, how much of a awful person I was for causing my mother so much grief, blah, blah, blah. Seriously. As if I couldn't hear her on the phone while I was up in my room. *Shakes head*
Even so, I ignored it and would just steer clear of her. I think that grated on her nerves, too, because she wanted to feel vindicated in her anger. She wanted to know she was irritating me, but I simply didn't care enough most of the time. Her opinion never mattered to me. Ever. Still doesn't, actually, but that's mostly because I'm of the mindset that the only opinions that really matter are mine, my husband's and my mother's (and folks like K, M and F).
Annnnywho, I was able to steer clear of her pretty darn well until recently. Specifically, my pregnancy and subsequent delivery of Vincent. Throughout my pregnancy, I never once got a "Congratulations" out of her. Never once did she acknowledge her nephew's existence. Worse, when I called my mother in a panic about the possible miscarriage of Vincent, she almost seemed happy about it. The fact that I can hold that thought in my head about my own sister turns my stomach. How much hatred can seriously be in her heart that there is even a remote possibility a seed of happiness over the death of a child could reside there?
She missed his Baptism, she didn't attend his 1st birthday, and during holidays when I had to go over my mother's house (where my sister still lives), she would completely ignore Vince. Worse, she'd roll her eyes any time someone would fawn over him, or leave the room in a huff. How sickening is that? At Christmas, Vince was only 3 months old. I forced her to hold him for the first time. She didn't even want to hold him. I gave him to her anyway, and she promptly turned him away from herself on one knee, and texted to someone with her free hand, never once paying him any attention.
So here's where my grudge jumps in. I never really cared about what she did to me. Now she's poking Momma Lion, though... and has been for the last three years (Vince is 2 plus the 9 months of pregnancy). I attempted putting it all on the table, hashing it out with her like an adult, but she couldn't even handle a normal conversation. I requested that my mother attempt talking sense into her, but to no avail. Even my brother, appalled by her treatment of Vincent, has attempted talking to her. Still to no avail. I think that's because Vince represents everything that was supposed to not only be hers, but be hers FIRST. I, the bad seed, wasn't supposed to have the great husband, wonderful home and beautiful child. At least not until she had paved the way first.
I've reacted poorly and angrily with this grudge. I've been praying hard on it. I need to forgive and forget, but every time I think I've made progress regarding her, the anger flares up and I have images of punching her square in the face. The thought of her mistreating my son makes me want to rip her heart out and feed it to a bear. She treats her other neices and nephews exactly as the perfect "fun" aunt would. But my son? Barely a "hello," and ONLY because my mother forced it from her lips to keep the most basic pretense of peace.
It makes me sick that one day, and probably very soon, I will have to explain to him why his aunt treats him so differently from his cousins. He's going to think her disdain for him was somehow caused by something he did. How can he understand the 20 odd years of depression, low self-esteem and jealousy from her? He's going to internalize this and think he is at fault for something, and that drives me up a wall. I get SO angry at this thought, and I don't know how to forgive when it's doubtful she even sees anything wrong with her behavior.
And the fact that most people in the family allow her to treat him in this manner boils my blood. If she were to do this to ANY OTHER CHILD, hell would open its gates and swallow her whole. But because it's my child... because it's Gina's little boy... it's somehow OK. Why? Oh, because Gina and Evelyn have been doing this for years. Let's not bother doing anything now considering they're both adults and should work it out on their own.
I'd love to, and have tried, but I'm not a miracle worker. I can only work with what I've got, and what I've got is a brick flippin' wall submerged in rebar.
My wonderful spiritual director, who has seen first hand how ridiculous the situation has been all these years, gave me some great advice which has really helped me along the path of forgiveness. Knowing that this grudge and unforgiveness were sinful and a result of angry pride, I wanted to rid myself of them. I wanted to be more Christlike and extend love as opposed to anger. But this particular grudge... it just wasn't allowing me wiggle room.
She said something brilliant, though. She said, "Offer your unforgiveness to Jesus and ask Him to return it to you as forgiveness." At first, I was like, "What? I don't want to offer Jesus something crappy like the sin of holding a grudge!" But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I kept saying, "Okay, Jesus... I can't forgive her. The thought of forgiving her makes me angry in and of itself. So take my brokeness and fix it for me. Take my inability to forgive her and patiently show me how it's done. You're the Master-whiz at this whole forgiveness stuff, so show me how it's done."
For months now that's been a prayer of mine. I can't say that I've truly let go of the grudge, but it's certainly gotten much lighter to carry around. I've let go of a lot, and I'm determined to not only be civil, but generously charitable in her presence. I haven't taken that charitability out for a test drive since she's never around when I go to my mother's house, but when the opportunity presents itself, I do plan on giving it a go in the hopes that I can put some virtues into practice as a thanks to Jesus for teaching me how to slowly, but surely, make progress with this.
I've also been able to pray peacefully for her. At first, I wasn't very nice in my prayers... I said them meanly... not really wanting her to benefit in any way. I only included her in my prayers because I knew Jesus would shake His Head at me for being so prideful. But now I can honestly say that I include her freely and happily. I hope my prayers have positive intercession for her, if not now, then at some point in the future. I have hope that if Jesus can convert my heart (kicking and screaming), He can do the same for hers, too, and that one day she might see Vincent and treat him like she would the other children in her life.
So while I've got a long, hard road ahead of me with this, I'm thankful for the progress Jesus has gently pushed me to make. Prayer really is quite powerful. Even the prayers we first make grudgingly... ha ha.
A friend of mine (also with a little boy) asked me if I was teaching Vincent any prayers. I guess she was looking to compare notes to see where she was regarding religious-parenting duties. Ha ha.
Honestly, her son (even though he's a couple months younger than Vince), is ahead of mine verbally. Vincent has a hearing problem that can't be corrected until at least September, so it's very difficult for him to process sounds. Thus, he can't understand prayers very well, so even though I pray "over" him every night, it's doubtful he's picking up anything more than the rhythm of prayers.
I am proud to report, however, that he knows exactly what to do when presented with the small statue of Our Blessed Mother or a rosary. He immediately puts the statue / rosary to his lips and gives a kiss. He will sometimes offer the item to me to ALSO kiss before I place the item back in its rightful place. In fact, after his bath, he many times reaches for the statue so he can give Our Lady her due kisses. It's melt-your-heart-adorable. :)
The last couple nights, though, I've noticed that he requests a certain hymn I regularly sing to him. It's a twist on the Glory Be prayer that I made up one night while lulling him to sleep. He enjoyed it so much that I now sing it to him in the car as well.
Anyway, he's been attempting to sing this particular song more often now. Granted, he also tries to sing the Wonder Pets theme song, but still... I'd like to think he's slowly getting into the mindset of prayer. Ha ha!
But to answer her question as to what prayers I typically pray with / over Vincent:
1 Glory Be in thanks for the gift, health, and safety of Vincent
1 Glory Be in thanks for his Guardian Angel
1 Hail Mary in thanks for her protection of Vincent and for her intercession to help me be a better mother to him
1 Guardian Angel prayer
1 Memorare for his Guardian Angel's intentions ('cause I figure angels have intentions, too!) and my intentions
1 Memorare for all other intentions that have been requested of me throughout the day
I chose these prayers specifically because I want Vincent to understand the importance of prayer and the graciousness of offering prayers not just for ourselves, but in thanks for our blessings and as intercessions for others who need help.
Lingiere for Little Girls?!?!
I've enlarged the photo to the left so you can better take a stab at the model's age. Feeling uncomfortable yet?
How about if I tell you her age is 10? TEN.
Her name is Thylane Loubry Blondeau, a French child-model who has been sexualized since she was 4.
She's a very pretty little girl... if you can look past the pound of makeup, the adult clothing, and miserable expression (I assume an attempt to appear serious and grown up?). Ugh. Disgraceful.
Anyway, this little girl (and others like her) has been the focal point of an incredible media blitz regarding a new line of lingiere aimed at toddlers / tweens. Padded bras, ruffled panties, camisoles, tousled hair and impossible amounts of heavy makeup are being lauded as "high fashion" in magazines like Vogue, Marie Claire and LOVE.
Anyone else feeling slimy? 'Cause I am. This is child pornography. Worse images can be found just by looking up the company that puts out this garbage "clothing line" for little girls.
For more information (including about a line of high-heel "shoes" for crawling babies) see this video from MSNBC or read this blurb from the Getitwhit blog.
This whole thing reminds me of those little girls that danced to Single Ladies. Ugh... what the heck is wrong with parents anymore? Society in general? How can we not only allow our little girls to be thus sexualized, but PROMOTE it and fawn over it as if it's some adorable little game that doesn't completely destroy self-image and confuse our children's perceptions of sexuality??? Ugh - God help us.
Some of you familiar with the blog "These Stone Walls" might recognize the photo donning my blog today. If you're not familiar with Fr. Gordon MacRae's story, please take a moment to get acquainted with both his story, and his blog.
Anyway, Fr. Gordon is the catalyst for my beautiful surprise tonight. After taking my son home from the park, I found a non-descript envelope sitting on my dining room table. My husband's a whiz at sorting mail... :)
The envelope was from Father Gordon, replying to a letter I sent him about a week ago. I honestly didn't think he'd have a chance to write back considering the amount of mail he must get, but write back he did, and he most graciously offered a Mass (on the Solemnity of the Assumption, no less!!!) for my family and I. Oh surprise joy! Even in the midst of his own suffering, he reaches out to bestow such a beautiful and perfect blessing.
And to top it off, he will be using part of my letter in his 8/31 entry. Oh Heaven, you are so kind to have allowed me to be of service to Father's poor heart. What an absolute blessing! I hope to encourage others to write him with messages of hope and love. We cannot forget him - and others like him - who are suffering such injustice at the hands of the rabid.
If you, too, are interested in sending Father some love, please keep him in your prayers. Better yet, drop him a line using the contact info provided on his blog.
Abortion, IVF and Hope
What are we doing to ourselves??? To our children??? How can we attempt to play God in so careless and selfish a manner???
This NY Times article is so mind-boggling disgusting I barely have words to express my disdain. There simply is no way to read this and not come away knowing what a crime and deplorable act of murder abortion truly is... even IVF and other false fertility methods. They ALL open the door to an evil insurmountable save through the Grace of God.
In hopeful news, this beautiful "Life" Rosary floated across Chicago's skyline in Friday, August 12th. Father Z. was kind enough to post it on his blog, and I'm now sharing it with you.
For the article, click HERE.
For the photos posted to Picasa, click HERE.
And again, as I posted a couple days ago, we need THIS ROSARY now more than ever.
Pray, pray and pray some more. Never think any of your heartfelt prayers are said in vain. Offer them to Our Lady and allow her to do with them as She pleases. She knows best what to do with prayers.
Happy Assumption, Blessed Mother!
Oh gloriously happy day! The Feast of the Assumption is truly the most happy day of Our Blessed Mother's life. Upon completion of her life on earth, she was allowed to be swept up, body and soul, into Heaven to rejoin her Father, Son and Spouse. What an amazing reunion that must have been!
My favorite "Assumption story" is that revealed to Maria Valtorta which can be found HERE. It is, by far, the most beautiful and richly detailed account from the lips of both the Blessed Mother and Her Son, Jesus. Be prepared with tissues, folks. The amount of love pouring forth from the account is incomprehensible.
One of my favorite quotes is this, from the Blessed Mother:
This is My first, mighty desire, entirely Mine. I can even say: My first will. Everything else in My life was nothing but the consent of My will to the divine will. The will of God, put in My heart of a little girl by God Himself, the will to be a virgin. His will: My marriage with Joseph. His will: My virginal divine Maternity. Everything in My life was done by the will of God and by My obedience to His will. But this desire, of wanting to join Jesus, is a will entirely Mine. To leave the Earth for Heaven, to be with Him for ever and continuously! My desire of so many years! And now I feel it is on the point of becoming reality.
Basically, the Blessed Mother didn't "die" so much as become consumed with love. Her desire to reunite once more with Her Son overcame all else and Her Love, burning within Her Immaculate Heart, forced her soul to be raptured to the Throne of God, there to await the angels in their endeavour to carry Her Pure Body to the gates of Heaven, to reunite with Her Soul that she may experience a kiss from Her Son once more.
Anyone else getting goosebumps???
I chose this particular painting of the Assumption because it depicts the Blessed Mother, being lifted in the arms of the angels, towards Heaven. Her arms are outstretched, and Her now Glorious Face is looking up towards, no doubt, Her Son, whom She outstretches Her arms in anticipation of His Embrace. Their firm embrace must've looked something like this:
Obviously instead of Jesus hugging a random girl, He would've been hugging His Beloved Mother. She probably would've had the same expression of incomparable joy and comfort in being enveloped thus by Her Beloved Son. Oh, to think of the joy this must have brought not just to these two Perfect Souls, but to all of Heaven as well since they now welcomed their Queen!
Broken Eucharistic Promise
I attended Mass Sunday morning and witnessed - for the first time - a priest "sit out" the distribution of Holy Eucharist! He was a visiting missionary priest, and he gave a wonderful talk about his mission and offered quite a nice Mass otherwise. But to sit out the Eucharistic Procession???
I've heard others lament it... I've read the blogs of those who decried it. I've always counted myself lucky to be one of those who had never experienced that incomprehensible lack of appreciation for the gift of the priesthood before.
I was dumbfounded. I haven't accepted the Eucharist from a Eucharistic Minister since my reversion. I had even made Jesus that special promise after He was kind enough to send Father Piotr my way on His Corpus Christi Feast. I was absolutely heartbroken. I didn't know what to do!
I wasn't sure if I should even partake of the Eucharist, but then I remembered what Jesus repeatedly told St. Faustina. Always accept the Body of Christ because nothing should keep the soul away from Christ unless there is a stain of mortal sin. I couldn't think of any mortal sin I might be in the shadow of, so I accepted the Eucharist from an EM... feeling my heart sink for the priest who passed up on his obligation to feed His people!
I was so upset for this priest that I was near tears as I walked back to my seat. The poor guy next to me noticed my facial expression and wasn't sure what to say to me. I wouldn't have known what to say either. All I could do was repeat the Hail Mary and Our Father over and over again, asking that the Holy Spirit open this priest's heart to the importance of distributing the Eucharist personally.
Bah. I was seriously tempted to wait in my seat and ask for him to distribute to me after Mass, but I felt as though that'd be presumptuous on my part. Then I wondered if I'd be able to make it up to 40th street (30 blocks north) in time for their Eucharistic Procession. That thought got knocked over by virtue of my own fear that I'd miss it. Bah! So up I went to accept from one of the Eucharistic Ministers while I shot pleading looks at Father Missionary to reconsider out of love for Christ.
No such luck... and I'm still a little upset. I felt off for the rest of the day, like I did something wrong or had something wrong done to me. I don't really know. I can't properly express it. Bah. Please pray for these priests. May they open their hearts to the great grace of being chosen to personally deliver the Christ of Salvation to the faithful.
Rosary for the Unborn
While down in Ocean City this weekend, I came across one of the most wonderful rosary manifestations I'd ever seen. It is called the "Rosary for the Unborn." Each "Hail Mary" bead is a blue teardrop encasing the small body of an unborn child. The "Our Father" beads are crimson red crosses, signifying the innocent blood shed by these aborted children.
The promises attached to this rosary are immense, and I'd like to spread the devotion as much as possible. Our Lady and Jesus both promise that for every "Hail Mary" said from a loving heart using this rosary, the life of a child who would otherwise be aborted will be saved. That's 53 children per mystery... 203 for a whole rosary (all 4 Mysteries)! You could, in fact, save an extra soul if you offer another Hail Mary up for the Pope's intentions upon completion of the full rosary!
Even more awesome? If only one person is praying with this rosary in a group setting, all rosaries are accepted with the same promises. So couple your prayers with the prayers of others, and think of how many lives you can save! How many priests you can bring into the world... how many doctors, teachers, and wonderful people!
For a full list of the promises attached to this special rosary, click HERE.
Now it's important to note where these revelations come from. The visionary in question is Maureen Sweeney-Kyle. She has not been approved by the Vatican. In fact, a Bishop of Cleveland cautioned against following her "Holy Love Ministries." However, several other Bishops and members of the clergy have countered the former's caution with brilliant recommendations. As always, it is up to the reader to discern through prayer their feelings on these reported apparitions. I, for one, was very moved by these stories and cannot find anything wrong with the devotion of this particular rosary... especially considering the need for such graces in a time so marked by abortion.
Mark of the Beast
A friend of mine, new to the faith by about 10 months, asked me about the "mark of the beast." Apparently there's a lot of hype in the media about this apocalyptic prophecy, and he was curious if I had more information.
In short, I don't have ANY information on the mark of the beast. Ha ha. I haven't a clue what it is, when it'll come, or what it will entail. I have, however, heard of some of the more popular theories regarding the mark. Some entertaining theories include:
The "peace" symbol, the number "666" (which is actually indicative of Nero), microchips, cell phones, bar codes, this thingie, and the world wide web. I have no doubt this is a very short list considering the joy folks seem to get out of picking apart these theories. To my friend, however, I say "Don't worry about it." All one can do is pray for discernment when and if the time comes. This mark may not even appear for another 600 years! Maybe it's already here. Who knows? I certainly don't. And I'm not typically one to go on any wild goose chases to find out.
But hey - I guess these theories are interesting enough to warrant a random chat. But to fear them? No. It is better to simply place those worries at the Feet of the Lord and pray that if we are meant to bear the trial of the mark, we are given the wisdom, clarity and strength to bear it in accordance with God's Will.
So I just wrote up an entry and my computer died. In the entry, I posted a message I got from a "friend" who was upset with how I was handling the issues of homosexuality. Considering the atrocious spelling, punctuation and lack of coherency, God was probably being kind by deleting my work. I took it as a sign that I shouldn't post the actual message out of compassion for the author.
Anyway, for those of you who have found me through Blogger, WDTPRS or even Google, you haven't gotten to see the fantastic threads these entries have spawned on Facebook (which my blog is connected to). Unsurprisingly, the homosexuality entries (and, oddly enough, ones on female ordination) have gotten quite a bit of traffic. As a result, I've had friends call me out on being all sorts of fun things. I've been accused of being hateful, malicious, bigoted, upset over being "dumped" by a homosexual, angry, and even racist (I seriously have no idea how that one came up).
This last e-mail, however, was SO ridiculous that I really wanted to share it. For charity's sake, however, I'll simply give you the gist. I do this not only to publicly defend myself, but also to call out the foolishness of the person who obviously hasn't read (or at least understood) any of my posts. I also do this so that others who are facing the same type of foolishness feel as though they're not alone in staring down this tornado of folly.
1. I do not hate homosexuals. On the contrary, I have plenty of family and friends who are homosexual, and I love them very much.
2. I do not teach that homosexuality is wrong. Folks constantly try to lump homosexuality and homosexual sex together. They are NOT the same thing. Homosexuality is not sinful. The act of homosexual sex is sinful. Those are two different things.
3. I do not teach that homosexuals go to hell. In fact, I don't think I've stated anything even remotely close to that. Stop being silly.
4. I am not upset or angry that I was "dumped" by a homosexual. First of all, we didn't "dump" each other. Secondly, I was pretty darn happy to be out of that relationship as it was unhealthy for both of us. Thirdly, I met and fell in love with my wonderful husband within a couple months of breaking it off. Can't exactly say I'm disappointed with the end of that relationship, especially when I made out like a bandit with my husband. :)
5. I have never made malicious statements about the homosexual community. They, too, are decent, wonderful, loving people deserving of respect and dignity. Much like any other "group" of people (be it religious, political, economic, cultural, etc) they are human beings at their core... made in the image of God.
6. I've never said that homosexuals cannot be priests. Seriously - where did that even come up? Considering the priesthood is meant to be celibate, it doesn't matter to me WHAT sexuality you are so long as you follow the vows of your ordination and live your life in as Christlike a way as possible.
7. I've also never said homosexuals can't recieve Communion. I've said that ANYONE in the state of mortal sin cannot partake of the Eucharist. If homosexuals are abstaining from homosexual sex, they're not in the state of mortal sin. They are more than able to participate in accepting the Body of Christ into themselves. Again, please actually read what I write instead of drumming up crazy accusations in your mind.
8. Explain how I am either a bigot or a racist. I'm really curious (and have no doubt I'll be highly entertained) to hear your reasons for these statements.
9. I am not "judging" folks in my posts. I'm explaining the Church's stance (and hence, my stance) on these issues because there is so much confusion among Catholics. There was plenty of confusion on my part, too, until I started to teach myself what the true positions were. You might be a little less willing to rile yourself up if you understood this yourself.
It is incredible to me how much ire is being tossed up, but it's not due to the posts... it's due to the misunderstandings (or flat out ignorance) of those who "read" the posts and then shoot angry laser beams my way without actually processing the posts. Ah well. This just let's me know I'm doing something right. Ha ha.
You get a double post today courtesy of my irritation regarding this petition which a friend just made me aware of.
Change.org is attempting to drum up pressure to have Sesame Street writers craft a storyline which finds Bert and Ernie married, or to introduce a transgendered character.
LEAVE. SEXUALITY. OUT. OF. CHILDREN'S. PROGRAMMING.
This is NOT a conversation for Sesame Street to initiate. This is between parents and children when they are age-appropriate. Three and five year olds do NOT need this type of foolishness detracting from their ABCs. You've GOT to be kidding me... *grumble, grumble, grumble*
It is not the place of Sesame Street to introduce children to homosexuality, transgenderism, or any other sordid aspect of sexuality. Stop attempting to manipulate children at their most innocent levels! How absolutely shameful.
The petition's Facebook page holds this movement up as a way to "end the bullying and suicides of LGBT youth." Pardon me while I shake my head at such obvious stupidity. We've already got TONS of homosexual characters portrayed in the media. Guess what? We've still got plenty of suicides, self-hatred and bigotry. Why? Because we keep hoping that pouring salve on the symptoms will alleviate the actual problem. It won't.
And starting to introduce these concepts to children (CHILDREN!) in an effort to validate yourselves in the minds of the general population won't make you any keener on accepting yourselves for who you are.
This boils my blood. It reminds me of one of the Vagina Monologues (argh... I hate to even bring those horrid excuses for literature up). It is one of the first, if not THE first, monologue in the series. It is titled Because He Liked to Look at It. The female speaker hates her vagina and is embarrassed by the existence of it. Her entire life she hated herself for this anatomical reality. One day, she found a lover who did all but worship her vagina. Only in his acceptance could she then love her vagina.
What a HORRIBLE message to women. You can only love your vagina because it gives pleasure to a man.
The same sort of message is being expected by the homosexual community that is rallying behind this petition. "Only through YOUR acceptance can we ever grow to love who we are!"
You can attempt turning every character in the media into an Ellen, Blaine or Dorian Gray. The fact remains that suicides among the homosexual community will remain high until they accept themselves as who they are. They will NEVER find acceptance and love from the outside world until they first find it among themselves, FOR themselves. The same holds true for ALL people, regardless of race, religion, gender or political background. You MUST learn to love and accept yourself before you can expect anyone else to.
I hold Ellen up as the perfect example of this. She has not only accepted herself, she has become a force to be reckoned with, and I bless her for it. She is not afraid to put herself out there and love herself for who she is. As a result, people gravitate towards her. She is charismatic, loving, witty, and intelligent. She has become what ALL homosexuals can become if only they'd fight their own demons and accept themselves for who they are.
But sure as hell don't attempt dragging children into your inner-struggles. Children aren't meant to be dealing with these types of issues so early, and it is NOT the place of public programming to initiate conversations meant for parents.
Sorry - I'm typically more coherent when I write out these things, but this particular topic has officially boiled my blood. Absolutely ridiculous.
"Where are you going, my father, without your son? Where are you going, holy pontiff, without your deacon? Never did you offer a sacrifice without my serving you at the altar. In what way have I displeased you?”
St. Lawrence probably couldn't contain his weeping as he followed his beloved leader, Pope Sixtus, to his martyrdom. In an attempt to console his faithful servant, Pope Sixtus prophesied, "I am not abandoning you, my son; a more difficult trial and a more glorious victory are reserved for you; in three days you will follow me."
Indeed, after angering the Prefect of Rome by amassing the Church's "treasure" of poor, virgin and infirm Christians, St. Lawrence was martyred on an iron grill, burned alive for his unwavering faith and ineffable love of Christ in the needy. He was infamously quoted as saying, "Turn me over - I'm done on this side!" as he joyously suffered unspeakable pain for love of God.
Let us all stop a moment and say a prayer for our Permenant Deacons... those discerning the call, those in formation, and those serving (past and presently). May we continually be thankful for their service to the Church.
In other news...
We've still got a bunch of misguided women attempting to decry the unalterable truth of Church Teaching. This time, the burden of foolishness lies with the Women's Ordination Conference. They've got a petition circulating in favor of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, hoping their collective voices will stop Fr. Roy's superiors from correctly dismissing Father from his role as priest.
Once again, how's about these women take a page from the Protestant handbook and just leave the Catholic Church? They are very much in conflict with Catholicism's most basic principles. They're already Protestant, they're just too blinded by self-righteousness to realize it.
In fact, as if this entire charade isn't ludicrous enough, they've got a "ministry" that is self-titled "Ministry of Irritation." Sad, isn't it?
WOC - instead of attempting to get Catholicism to bow down to your selfish and misled desires, I suggest finding the door and using it. No one is holding you hostage to Catholicism. Please go start your own religion and muck up as much foolishness and dishonesty as you'd like. Stop attempting to drag the Church through the mud. No matter how much you whine, complain and stamp your feet, you'll NEVER be recognized as priests because you were never meant to be priests.
So go ahead and have all the false ordinations you want. Go ahead and wear stoles, chausibles, and even "play Mass" with bread and wine. No matter how many manicured hands pray over these items, no matter how much enthusiasm is put into praying our Sacred Prayers, and no matter how much "faith" you've got in your ability to consecrate, Christ will never condescend to create His Body and Blood through you.
Wah, wah, wah all the way home, ladies. You are not meant to be priests.
In lighter news, the Mighty Broom has become a symbol of hope and unity for Londoners in response to the rioting and looting of the last few nights.
Volunteers organized themselves via Facebook and Twitter and swarmed the hardest hit areas of London in an attempt to begin taking back their streets. God bless them for their efforts. More information, interviews, pictures and commentary can be found here. Kudos to them!
See this picture of a crazy dude who lost his temper in some silly little fit of rage? This was me. In fact, this is me quite often. I dunno what it is about me, but when my temper snaps, it REALLY snaps. I can feel the depths of hell unleashing all its fury, and as it boils up within me, I feel every muscle in my body tense, and my voice rises to levels that leave me hoarse and scratchy for hours (if not days).
I've been trying really hard to work on this. I've asked for graces to overcome it, and I've resolved myself not to let this anger get the better of me. Unfortunately, get the better of me it did yesterday and I've come to realize that in my selfish pride, I haven't been honest with myself in my desires to kick this habit. There is still a piece of me that feels entitled to fits of rage. There's a part of my brain that feels justified in my vengeful, angry vents.
I think these outbursts are my subconscious way of over-compensating for my own failings. For example, this most recent outburst was directed at my husband. He had asked me to do something for him while he was on vacation, and I did it. It turns out I hadn't done it exactly as he had requested, and as a result, something got a little fudged. Instead of immediately recognizing my mistake and apologizing, I apologized and then made an excuse for myself in an attempt to lighten the load of responsibility.
Knowing my M.O., John grew slightly agitated and demanded a proper apology that cited full responsibility for my actions. I immediately blew a fuse. You see, we were on our way to enjoy lunch together after having been apart for a week. I had been looking forward to reconnecting with my husband, so to have him stir up trouble en route to this wonderful little outing drove me nuts.
Unfortunately, I made a bad situation worse by allowing my temper to get the better of me. I swung the car around and basically kicked him out, not wanting to look at him let alone share lunch. Ugh. I know this was wrong. Really, really wrong. Especially since it was my fault in the first place for not simply owning up to the error I made. The problem is, I felt justified in my anger because I felt he was wrong to have pressed the issue when we were on our way to a nice lunch, especially since I had offered a sincere apology.
Again, I realize how wrong I was. Immediately upon getting angry I realized I was wrong, but that didn't prevent me from angrily stiffing him for the rest of the ride.
I went home for the rest of my lunch period to simply lie down (being this angry typically wipes me out for a good 20 minutes). When I made my way back to work, I asked Jesus to forgive me for my stupidity and give me the grace to apologize to John. And I did... as soon as I saw him. For those of you who know me, apologies aren't exactly my strong-suit. But like I said... I'm a work in progress, and this is one of those vices that REALLY grabs hold of me.
Any thoughts on good strategies to boot this sort of behavior? 'Cause unfortunately it isn't only John who bears the brunt... poor Vince tastes this type of insane wrath for the stupidest things, too. Say some prayers for me, folks... I need patience and humility.
Lydia's Baptism Pictures!
My beautiful, perfect, wonderful little Lydia became a Princess of the Church on Friday. I finally got pictures and I'm posting them for your enjoyment!
In the first picture, she's posing with Fr. Matt and her mom, Jen. Jen just became a fully-vested member of the faith this past Easter season. I'm so proud!!!
Though I couldn't be there physically for Lydia's baptism, I was sure to be on my knees offering up a rosary at the same time she was being baptized. I'm so, so, so happy that Lydia took her first spiritual steps towards a life of love.
This is a picture of her Baptismal Candle.
I've always loved this part of baptism (not more than the smell of chrism, but it's up there). When the godparent takes the candle and lights the flame of faith from the Paschal candle... oooo! I get goosebumps every time!
It's such a wonderful reminder that Christ is not only the Light of our lives, but His Love burns as a fire for us.
After the Baptism, they re-enacted portions because someone felt funny taking photos during the sacrament. Ha ha. Very thoughtful of them.
This made for a fun shot, though, so I'm including it because Lydia looks adorable.
You get a nice detail of the Baptismal font - one of the nicer ones I've seen. All marble with beautiful sculpting. I admit to being a fan. *Grin*
Here we have Fr. Matt blessing the rosary and Bible I sent Lydia. She's wearing her Miraculous Medal already, but I'm sure he blessed that at some point as well. I love that she, herself, brought up the items for him to bless.
I also love that she's patiently waiting for him to return them to her, probably wondering if they were different in any way now that he had prayed over them. Ha ha ha ha. I love this little girl like nothing else!
Annnd, for my grand finale, the two Princesses of the Church - mom and daughter. I can't help but feel my heart explode a little from all the warm fuzzies in this picture. I love when Lydia squishes her face like that when she's hugging someone close. When she does it to me, I could stay glued like that - happily - forever. :)
Send a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing their way. It is truly a joyous, joyous time for them, and for me who gets to cheerlead from the sidelines!
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