Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let's turn the Blogostat to a little bit lighter

Yesterday I went to the above park after confession.  I would have sat at church until 5:00 mass, but the priest told me to go outside and enjoy the rest of the day.  I thought I'd best not disobey, having just been absolved and all.  So I went to a nearby park and said my penance prayers - well, it was just one, Psalm 81.  And went to mass when it was time...

On Friday a friend from work sent me a "funny" e-mail.  I frequently don't even open e-mail that have "FWD: fwd: fwd: FWD:" in the subject line.  But she caught me in the hall and told me I HAD to watch the short video.  She said it was worth watching.  Well, it was a 72 year old woman doing a deadpan standup routine about her age.  I found it so unfunny that I was crying by the end of it.  It was just pitiful.    I guess age is the final frontier of things that are OK to make fun of.  I don't find it funny.  I pass by the greeting cards at the grocery store, many of the "funny" ones have "hilarious" photos of old people on the fronts.  

I know that I have a serious streak about a mile wide.  I also have a funny streak a mile and a half wide.  But what others find funny and what I find funny often do not sync.  If the humor is at the expense of another, I am not going to laugh.  I just think it is mean.  

But at confession yesterday, I know the priest knew who I was from my laugh.  It is the most recognizable thing about me.  I went "behind the screen" in an attempt at humility.  And who laughs at confession anyway???? me.

And since I am being totally random here, I will just say that I wore jeans to mass yesterday.  I don't normally do that, unless the weather is horrible.  But I did it yesterday.  Mainly because of the comments I got when I wrote about dressing up for mass.  I thought maybe wearing jeans would be an exercise in humility.  If so, it didn't work.  The woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder before mass and said "I can't believe you are wearing jeans!"  Oh, horror.  Then I looked at her legs, and they were in jeans.  So I knew she wasn't trying to insult me.  I guess the look on my face told her she needed to explain.  She said she was surprised because she never saw me in jeans before and that I usually dress "so nice."  I  told her that I couldn't help it, it was how I was raised.  She agreed.  She is probably in her mid to late 60s, so she understood.  But said she just doesn't dress up anymore.  I understand.  But I do.  I dress nicely for work, I think I ought to spend at least as much time trying to dress nice for mass.

Sorry, I am all over the place today.  

I am going to head out and go see the movie "The King's Speech" this afternoon.  I am looking forward to it.

I hope you all have a beautiful Sunday.  

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Priest in the Family

I grew up with two uncles who were priests.  They were my father's brothers.  And as you know, when you grow up with something, you think it is the most normal thing in the world.  My baptismal certificate is signed by my uncle, the photos of my baptism are complete with a couple of priests who are my uncles.  My brothers and sister were all married by one of my uncles.  

One of my priest uncles was a worker bee priest.  He humbly did his job in priestly anonymity.  He lived in another state, so we didn't see him as often as the other one.  The other one lived in a nearby city and we saw him a lot.  He was also, in the 50s and early 60s, a famous priest.  He wrote a lot.  He was an editor of a Catholic publication.  He was very handsome and articulate, and brilliant.  He wrote music, including several masses.  In school, on the first days, the teacher would invariably ask me if I was related to Father ___.  I would sheepishly say "yes."  But we were all proud to be related to him.  

As the early 60s mutated into the mid and late 60s, my uncle mutated right along with them.  He started traveling the world.  He started acting strangely.  I heard my parents whisper that they thought he was using drugs.  I remember a particularly uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner when uncle brought a young runaway girl as his guest.  

Then it got worse.  He started calling me on the phone.  He said he was going to leave the priesthood to marry me!  I was 14 years old!  It was horrifying.  He came to visit - by this time we were living in a suburb of Chicago.    He told my father he wanted to marry me.  I don't really know what happened, surely my father told him he needed to stop this craziness.  

By the early 70s, he had written a scandalous book and was making the rounds of the talk shows.  My poor brother was his namesake - as was his son - it was very embarrassing for him at that time.  There was not a lot of recognition for the name outside of the Catholic church, but it was such a scandal in our family.  

A year or so later, the first newspaper stories started appearing.  He was accused of molesting a boy.  Then more boys.  There are still boys, now men, coming forward to say they were abused by him.  He was sent away to a priest rehab.  Then he was no longer a priest.  

I just did a google search - I found a newspaper article about him and other priests, the tag line behind his name is: "a convicted child molester who died in 1984."

He died in a very suspicious car accident in 1984.  It looked more like suicide.  

I did not attend the funeral.

Over the years, I suppose I have more compassion for him.  When people talk of these priests being monsters, I think of my uncle.  What he did was despicable, intolerable, horrible.  But I cannot bring myself to hate him or any others.  

Over the years, I remember him now as the young handsome priest I was so proud to be related to.  I do not dwell on the memories of the derelict, alcoholic, deviant person he became.  I am certain his victims have no option other than remembering the horrible person.  I do though.  

I can pray for him and I do.  

Last year in Biblical School, one of the questions asked what we thought happened to the souls of priests who had abused children.  Oh, you should have heard the vile things that my classmates said!  I simply said that I hoped that God had compassion for them.  It is not a popular sentiment.  I don't know if he can or not.  But I can hope that he does.  Please do not take this to mean that there is any excuse for his behavior.  I can think of none.  

Real life is so complicated.  

And so now I have written some of my darkest secrets.  I never spoke of my uncle until very recently.  And then very tentatively.  For years, I was afraid my name would be recognized at my church, by some priest, or at school.  If it has, no one has asked me about it. 

But it is part of my history.  

Lord have mercy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Living Through January

This is a photo of the "green drink" that is part of my attempt to ditch the ten (10) pounds (!) I gained in December.  My friend, who is a personal trainer, sent me a list of suggestions, and this drink was on it.  The drink is blended spinach, kale, parsley, cucumber, lemon, apple, and blueberries.  It actually doesn't taste bad, it just looks disgusting.  

There is a topic I want to write about here, but it would take some time and emotional energy and I haven't  had either.  Perhaps this weekend?  

January and February are traditionally difficult months for me, and this year is no different.  

Did I tell you that my best friend at work retired last week?  She is a dear friend and her presence at the hospital is missed by all, but by me maybe most of all, because she is my friend.  We will still be friends, but it will be different.  We will meet on Saturdays for an early morning movie ($4), or on Sundays for mass, as we have been doing for year.  

And bless her heart, she got to retire on her 50th birthday.  Because, unlike me, she started her one and only career in her early 20s, and just stuck with the same job all that time.  She got promotions all along until she made a nice salary.  She bought a condo when she was in her 20s, it is now paid off.  Unlike me, she did not decide to move into a grander residence, with a grander mortgage.  She did every smart thing that I have failed to do.  

It is not good for me to compare myself to others.  As they say, if I compare my insides to your outsides, I will always come up short.  

OK, gotta go run now and hope it lifts my mood.

God bless you all.  Thanks for reading.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

The First Letter of Saint Peter

1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him, you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy.  As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.  

Tonight at Biblical School this verse made me cry.  Granted, I do not feel well, and I am a bit overwrought about several things, but this is just too beautiful.  

There is an inheritance in heaven just for me!  It is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.  No one will spend it before I get it.  It won't be left to a step-mother who will not acknowledge me in her will.  It is mine.  It is from my heavenly father who is true to his word.  He is faithful even when I am not.  He loves me, he knows me, he has a purpose for me.  He wants me.  He does not think I am a pain in the neck.  He never tires of hearing from me.   

He is always and forever.  

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.  -- John 1:1-3

Monday Morning

I was supposed to run this morning, but woke up with a (nother) migraine, so running is out.  I have to go to work at least long enough to find out if the feds have shown up this Monday.  We are expecting a visit, and it is my job to coordinate these visits.  So, I will bravely show up for work and hope to leave within an hour or two.  Then I'll come home, take medication, and go to bed.  Hope to be well enough to go to Biblical School tonight.    I am having at least one migraine a week lately, and although I can "offer it up," I am concerned that something untoward is going on inside my head.  

In desperation for a bit of warmth and light, on Friday I went to the tanning salon and got them (in desperation) to offer me quite a deal for six months of tanning.  I have been tanning on and off for the last twelve years.  They say it is not good for you, I suppose they are right.  Last year I went to a dermatologist for my first full body scan.  The only issues on my whole body were on the left side of my face - from driving a car.   So, I felt I had license to tan again.   I tell you, laying under that light seems to have great benefit for someone who is suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.  

Anyway, there IS a point to this story....  When I was done tanning, and leaving the salon, the owner was talking to one of his friends about Moses!  Of course, I felt the need to pipe right in and join the conversation.  After a few moments, the tanning guy asked me if I had considered becoming a minister.  I laughed and said "no."  He told me I should be a minister because I could help a lot of people.  He said I am great at talking to the most disturbed people.  

A reader might ask how the tanning salon guy would know this....  I have done all of my twelve years of tanning at this salon.  In those years, I have had many opportunities to talk to the tanning guy and his clientele.  I spent a great deal of time with the tanning guy when he was suffering terribly from active alcoholism.  He has now been five or more years without a drink.  He won't go get the help he needs, so his is not a very happy sobriety, but he is sober just the same.  And I am sure that beats the heck out of the way he was drinking.   We dealt with the sudden death of a common friend a few years back and all that entails.  I guess I am saying we have a relationship.  I would not count him as a friend, but we have known each other for a while.

And who knows what my point is, because I am sure having a hard time getting around to it.... I think my brain is not functioning well with all that pain inside it this morning....

I do have a point, and it is.... we never know how we impact those people around us.   I like to think I can just go through life and carefully chose the relationships I will have.  But God has a different idea.  The clerk at the grocery store or the dry cleaners, the waitress at the local pizzeria, my hairdresser, my realtor, or banker, etc., etc.... these are all people I can have a positive effect on, or a negative.  I hope to have a positive impact.  

I am totally dependent on God to help me do this, because left to my own devices, I am a grouchy, snarly soul.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22, 2011

Me and my youngest granddaughter - on the day after she was born.

Can you indulge me while I tell you a story about me as a 14 year old girl?  I was a 14 year old pregnant girl.  I was horrified to find myself in this position.  It was 1966.  It was not "OK" to be pregnant out of wedlock back then.  It was a disgrace.

I had no idea what to do and my mother was so angry with me she wouldn't talk to me about it.  We were terrified to tell my father who had suffered too many heart attacks to count by then, so we just pretended it wasn't happening.  But it got to be a few months into a pregnancy, I was beginning to show and I had not a clue what to do, so being a (not so) good Catholic girl, I went to see the priest.

He was so kind to me, and he was kind enough to talk to my father.  The day my father got the news, he called me downstairs to talk to him.  I was terrified.  He told me he was proud of me.  Not proud that I was pregnant, but proud that I had gone to see the priest and had taken action to take care of myself.  He never mentioned that my mother was no help at all, but he must have surely thought it.  * God rest their souls.  *

Within days, I was whisked out of my familiar world and into the St. Vincent Home for Unwed Mothers on LaSalle St. in Chicago.  In the heart of Chicago.  By then I was all of 15.  I was one of the youngest girls there.  I believe a young Puerto Rican girl named Juanita was younger than me.... but this was many years ago and I may have forgotten.

The nuns there were very kind to me.  All the girls had jobs, mine was to serve the meals to the nuns in the Nun's Quarters.  I loved that job.  I loved those nuns.  I actually enjoyed my confinement during that hot summer of 1967 - the "summer of love."

In mid August, I went into labor and stayed in that state for 3 days.  I went to the hospital where they put me in a bed and ignored me.  I laid in that bed and suffered through labor, alone, for three days.  At the end of those three days, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  I named her Mary Catherine, after one of the nuns from St. Vincent's.  She was taken away from me right then.  I never got to hold her.  I never even got to touch her.

Of all the things that have happened to me in my life, I think the single most painful moment I have had was being 15 years old and leaving that hospital and the baby I had given birth to but never touched.

A "nice" family adopted her.  Every year I counted the years down until she would be 18 and I was sure I would find her.

By the time she was 20, we had found each other and arranged to meet each other.  She flew to Denver to see me.  I stood at the airport waiting for my 20 year old daughter - who I had never met or even touched!  When she got off the plane, we hugged, and then we just stared at each other for the longest time.  It is so odd to "meet" that close of a relative for the first time.  She looked so much like my mother!  We had many odd things in common.  We were thrilled to meet each other, but I think it was much too much of an experience for either of us to handle.  We lost touch with each other about a year later.  I tried to find her, but I never could.

She found me again, now almost another 20 years later, two years ago.  We talk on the phone from time to time.  She wanted to come to visit me, but I put her off.  I am not ready to see her again.  That is the simple truth.  She is a beautiful young woman, but has a lot of problems.  She was raised Catholic, but now seems to have an adolescent need to offend with outrageous comments about the church - which she knows are offensive to me - I had to tell her.   She has pulled a couple of stunts with members of my family that have been very embarrassing and hurtful.

It's so complicated this way I feel about her.  I am so incredibly glad that she is alive and was not aborted.  But before you give me much credit for this, please remember that her birth was pre-Roe V. Wade.  I am pretty sure I wouldn't have aborted when I was 14... but later I came to believe that abortion was a perfectly valid "option" when pregnant.

I don't know exactly why I am sharing this tonight.  Maybe just because it is worth sharing what used to happen before we started the wholesale slaughter of "inconvenient" babies.  And no matter how complicated this was/is, I am still very happy that she was born.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


There is a poll to the right, I would be most appreciative if you would weigh in on this topic.  It is anonymous, I am just interested in this topic.    Because I am conflicted...

I grew up in the 50s and 60s (yes, I am old) and we just filed into church and waited for the confessional light to go out so we could go in.  I never had any fear that Father would know it was me, I just humbly confessed my sins.  When I left church, I always felt that my soul was gleaming white and pure as the driven snow.  It was among the best feelings of my childhood!

At the age of 15, I left the church.  There were myriad reasons for my leaving:   I was having a tumultuous adolescence which happened to collide with Vatican II.  I honestly think I would have stayed at church if it had remained the church of my childhood.  I loved the church.  I loved mass, I loved the rosary, I found great comfort in these things.  But suddenly, when I needed the church the most, it had turned, well, I can think of no other word than silly.  Suddenly we were singing awful versions of folk songs accompanied by the guitar.  I clearly remember singing a paraphrased version of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind."  The words were changed to "The answer my friend is Livin' in all men.."  It was so corny and so transparent in its attempt to be "hip" and "relevant" - I left the church.  And didn't come back for 25 years!   Now, be assured, I do take responsibility for this, but I do think that the church changing so radically at this time contributed something to my throwing up my hands in despair.  

When I came back to church after so many years away, I was ready to accept the church as it was.  When I finally decided to go to confession, I was terrified.  Imagine what I had to say, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned, my last confession was 25 years ago."    I crept into the church on the Saturday afternoon before the first Sunday of Advent.  I was shocked to see a line of people waiting to go to confession.  I waited and waited.  Two people ahead of me was an old woman.  I thought that should take about 2 minutes, she was in there for a long time, and it put fear into me.  The man just ahead of me agreed that we were shocked that it took so long!  (Oh what a terrible thing for us to be doing when we should have been busy worrying about ourselves!)  Now that I am nearing "little old woman" status, I can see what took so long for her!

It finally came my turn, I walked around a corner in the church I had never been to before.  There was not a "confessional" in the sense that I understood one.   There was a room.  I walked into the room.  There was a chair, and a screen behind which was the priest, and another chair in front of the priest.  I stood there and told the priest I hadn't been to confession in 25 years and had no idea what to do!  He told me "Take a deep breath, and then pass out."  I laughed, then he explained to me that I could sit behind the screen or come face to face and make my confession.  I thought I was being brave when I walked around to face him.  I can't describe how wonderful it was to finally get all that garbage off my soul.  I left there feeling like a free woman!

In the years since, I have made most of my confessions face to face.  A couple of years ago, I waltzed into confession and sat in the chair facing the priest, dressed in my jeans and a sweater - Saturday afternoon clothes - and felt like such a brazen hussy!  How on earth did I have no more shame than that!  I felt, in that moment, that I had absolutely no shame for the sins I had committed!  I just put confession on my list of things to do on a Saturday afternoon - grocery shopping, go to the mall, go to confession, etc., etc.

I have since found "real" confessionals to go to.  Confessionals behind the screen with a kneeler, so that I can assume a position of contrition as I make my Act of Contrition.   This feels so much more humble and sacred to me.  

Perhaps it is another artifact of my age.  If you could answer the survey, I would be most appreciative.  I know I don't have that many readers, but I have really great readers!

Thank you and God bless you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snowy Cold January Night

Those are Christmas lights on my deck, glowing through the snow tonight.  It loses a lot in translation - it looks great in person.

I was reading our local Catholic newspaper tonight.  In it there was an article by our wonderful Archbishop, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M CAP. about Judge John Roll.  He quoted one of his own homilies and I would like to quote it too:

"We're citizens of heaven first.  Our time here is limited.  This life passes.  Eternity is forever.  We need to act in this world accordingly, with lives of Christian service to the poor and afflicted -- including the unborn child, the immigrant, the homeless and the elderly.  The more authentically Catholic we are in our lives, our choices, our actions and our convictions, the more truly we will contribute to the moral and political life of our nation."

My mind is on eternity, and I realize how far I have to go.  God please help me to grow towards you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Journey to Sainthood

No, I don't mean for Blessed John Paul II.  Or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.  

I mean you.  I mean me.

We are called to be Saints.  

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.  I am a bit sad about some news of a blogger who is suffering terribly.  I am wondering what on earth I can do for a person I have never met and lives thousands of miles away.  It is heavy on my heart.  I am a bit overwhelmed at work.  I am a bit overwhelmed by my family.  It is none of it too much, but it all adds up to a Mary who is sitting at 8 p.m., just wanting to slip into my warm bed and go to sleep.  (Which I will do as soon as I finish this.)

I looked at the website of one of my new favorite authors:  Dr. Peter Kreeft.  I read the transcript of a speech he gave in 1998.  The whole speech was great, but a particular line hit me between the eyes:

Here is one of the most wonderful and terrifying sentences I have ever read, from William Law’s Serious Call, “If you will look into your own heart in utter honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not even now a saint.  You do not wholly want to be.”
I will reach out for God's hand to help me to get there.  It is my heart's desire (someday, I hope, without reservations).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pre-test jitters

How glorious to have this Monday holiday!  I got to get up and go to mass, then take a nice leisurely run - without needing to hurry back home.  The day, as you can see by the photo, is beautiful, sunny, warm, and windy.

My Biblical School test is tonight.  I just decided that I cannot possibly memorize the Psalm verse I had chosen, so I have chosen another, with three hours left to memorize it.  I wish my brain worked better.  This is my fourth year of these tests and I can tell you, I spend the day of the test memorizing, the drive to the church speaking them aloud, and the moment I get the test, I turn to the part where you are to write your memorized verses.  I write them down and then POOF!  they are gone.  My brain does not work like that any longer.

I bet I could recite the entire mass. I know all my prayers.  I know I have the capacity to memorize - or I HAD the capacity to memorize.  But I tell you, it is gone.  Thank God I STILL know what I learned long ago.

So, here they are:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgression.  -- Psalm 51:1
And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  -- Job 1:21
Any prayers would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you and God bless you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

I have just started studying for my test at Biblical School tomorrow night.  I have a "test studying" book, it is a booklet of blank index cards, spiral bound, with perforations so that the cards may be removed if you like.

In it are my notes from a presentation by Scott Hahn I attended almost a year ago.  I thought I would read them, and there were so many things written there that were so meaningful - I wish I could remember these things, but I just forget!  One of the notes was so astounding, I thought I would share it here:

We don't break the law - the law stays in tact - we break ourselves against the law.

We are the ones who get broken when we try to go against the law of God.  Oh, how true this has been in my life!

Now I must get back to my books....

Saturday, January 15, 2011


This is the finished product.  Posole is a soup or stew made from Posole, or hominy, pork, chiles, cilantro, onions, etc.  It is a traditional New Mexican dish for Christmas Eve (after midnight mass).  I would give a recipe (as Ros requested), but I used many and kind of played it by ear.  If you really want to make it, I would advise finding a recipe on the internet and going from there.  One piece of advice?  Do not use canned or frozen posole.  Use the dried posole, and cook it for hours and hours until it bursts and softens.  Oh, it is so good!  

It was nice to come home from mass tonight and have supper already made.  

Thanks for reading!

Cooking and Cleaning


My running group is on a one week break between the winter and "spring" sessions, so I didn't have to travel across town for an early morning run this morning.  I slept until nearly 7 a.m.!  That is so out of character for me, I am normally up between 4 and 5 a.m. whether I need to or not.  

I have been cooking (posole, yumm, yummm) and cleaning, I went grocery shopping, and will soon plant myself on the sofa to watch football.  I really do like Saturdays.  But I like Sundays better.  

I remember when I was a young mother, talking with another young mother in the neighborhood, she mentioned the "sabbath."  That was a concept so foreign to me at the time that I still remember it all these years later (probably 30 years).   

When I returned to the church in my early 40s, I kind of tip-toed in.  I went to mass every Sunday, but didn't do much else that was required.  It took me 3 years to muster the courage to go to confession!  Then that became a habit as well as Sunday mass.  There was still a large category of my behavior that I didn't acknowledge as sinful, and therefore did not feel the need to confess or change - oh my stomach turns when I think of this now!!  One small example of that was behaving as though Sunday were just another day.  I knew better - I knew the Ten Commandments!  But I thought that was just another antiquated idea, like the rest of the commandments which I found inconvenient.  

It is so embarrassing to admit how long it has taken me to realize that if I call myself Catholic, that means the whole thing.  I can't decide to ignore what I don't want to face.  I remember another conversation maybe 18 years ago, with a formerly Catholic man.  He called me a "Cafeteria Catholic," to which I responded that it was better than not being a Catholic at all.  

Now I wonder.  

But I am so grateful that I wasn't struck dead while I was pulling all those shenanigans.  I am grateful that I have been given the time to come into the fold.  I wish it hadn't taken so long.  But glad I am here now.

Thanks be to God.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who is in Charge?

There is a crocus that came up in my garden last spring.  I suspect it will do the same this year, in just a few short weeks.  My role in this?  I stuck a bulb in the ground nearly 10 years ago.  That is it.  I do not make it grow, I cannot make it stop (except by digging it up).  I am not in charge of this.  I do not order the rotation of the earth so that the seasons change.

I believe that there is an order to the universe, and it is not man-made.  I believe that we can make things better or screw things up, but that God is in charge.  It is He who makes nations rise and nations fall.  We have enemies, but we are either protected by God or not.  It is up to Him.

Nothing we do is without consequences.    But I am not in charge.  

There is comfort in this.  To me.  

Tomorrow I will go to mass and rosary on my way to work.  
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.  -- Matthew 10:28-33

Winter Doldrums

Inspired by Kathy over at Moving on to the Past, I thought I would post my current knitting projects.  I am making socks for a friend for Christmas (yes, they are late - I gave her a card and a small ball of yarn with a small knitting project hanging off the ends of toothpicks to actually open at Christmas, with the promise of a pair of socks).  She had asked me to make her some, her grandmother used to knit her socks, so she has a fondness for hand-knit socks.  If you have never worn a pair, you have no idea what you are missing.  They are like a perpetual hug for your feet.  Also in the photo is a shawl I am knitting.  It is a lacy thing and so much fun to knit.  I usually have at least 2 projects going at any time.   I love to knit!

It seems I am entering some sort of winter doldrums.  I guess it would be called Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I do have this every year.  I also do suffer from chronic depression that I have to fight with all my might.  Some times the fight is just knowing the enemy and trying to outsmart him.   I am that rare endangered species - an unmedicated depressed person.  I don't take medications well, so my doctor and I agree that I am pretty good at "managing" my depression without them.

I find that if I have some major thing to look forward to, I get through the winter much better.  On Tuesday, I registered for a marathon - it is in Maine in October - which should be beautiful.  I said "never again" after my one and only marathon in October of last year, but I guess I have already forgotten the pain and want to do it again.  I have spent hours on the computer planning the trip in the last few days.  It does help.

I think I am going to have to turn off the television for a month or two.  At least the news.  I cannot tolerate it right now.  I am sickened at the whole thing.  I can't stand either side of the political equation in this country right now.  Do we really need to check our brains at the door when we join a political party?  If so, I will gladly relinquish my membership.  In my life, I have swung from one extreme to another, perhaps it is time to stand right in the middle.  I know I am a "social conservative," and that is non-negotiable.  But neither party really embraces that.

Last night when I went to bed, it was around 20º, when I woke this morning, it was over 40º.  I wish I could go outside and run, but the sun is up much too late, and I refuse to go out alone in the dark.  My workout for this morning is an hour on the treadmill.  I am grateful I can do this.  I am also grateful for my iPhone with videos on it because an hour is a long time to stare at a corner of my basement.

I am grateful that I know this place isn't my final home.  I am grateful I know that this life is just a moment, and I have all of eternity to look forward to.  If I thought this was it, I would not be able to bear it.
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -- Romans 5:3-5

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back to Ordinary Time

I have just returned home from Biblical School.  I thought that when I did, I would be inspired to write something.  We reviewed the first half of the year's studies - because we take a test next week.  I realized with much humility that I had better study.  I am thrilled that I am now done studying the Old Testament.  I have loved much of it, but it has so many people to remember!  The New Testament has One Major Character, and I can easily remember him.  

So this week I have to study and I also have to memorize two verses of my choice.  One from Psalms and one from the other wisdom books we have studied this semester (Job, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Sirach).    Let me just tell you that I am leaning towards these verses at the moment:
Psalm 32:1-2  Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Job 1:21  And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
I like Psalm 32 (the entire thing) because my pastor told me to read it after going to confession.  It is a wonderful Psalm of God's forgiveness - if one is honest, confesses one's sins, and turns away from evil.

I love the entire book of Job, out of all of the OT, Job may be one of my favorites.  Tobit is #1 for me.  But Job is right up there.  So, Job just hears that all of his earthly wealth has been destroyed, and his children all killed.  And how does he respond?  With faith in the Lord.  Now, THAT is faith.

My eyes are nearly crossing I am so tired.  I better get to bed because 4 a.m. rolls around pretty early each day.  And 10 p.m. is too late to be awake when 4 a.m. is waking time.

Thanks everyone.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

For the Love of God

And now back to our regularly scheduled program...

This morning I was reading a wonderful book, and re-read something I had heavily underlined a few months ago.  Funny, how I need to be reminded - I just don't remember things.    This seems to answer some of the questions I have  been asking myself over the last week.  So, allow me to quote a paragraph from the book "Three Philosophies of Life" by Peter Kreeft:

"Saint Augustine, in his sermon 'On the Pure Love of God', imagines God coming to you with a question similar to the one he asked Saint Thomas.  The point is kind of a self-test to find out whether you have the 'pure love of God', that is, whether you are obeying the first and greatest commandment, to love God with your whole heart and soul, in that deep, obscure center of your being where your 'fundamental option' decides your eternal destiny.  Augustine supposes that God proposed to you a deal and said, 'I will give you anything you want. You can possess the whole world.  Nothing will be impossible for you.  You will have infinite power.  Nothing will be a sin, nothing forbidden.  You will never die, never have pain, never have anything you do not want and always have anything you do want -- except for just one thing: you will never see my face.'  Would you take that deal?  If not, you have the pure love of God.  For look what you just did:  you gave up the world, and more -- all possible worlds, all imagined worlds, all desired worlds -- just for God.  Augustine asks, 'Did a chill arise in your heart when you heard the words 'you will never see my face'?'  That chill is the most precious thing in you, that is the pure love of God."

I am pleased to report that I have that chill.  I think you probably all do too.

Deo Gratias.  

A little girl

Died yesterday.  I know you know.  A little girl was shot and killed in Tucson, Arizona (one of my favorite places on earth).

She was born on September 11, 2001.

I know not much more than that.  Imagine a life begun on 9/11 and ending in this violence.

Nearly as soon as I heard about the whole tragedy, I saw on facebook that my nephew blamed a certain former governor of a northern state, who also had an unsuccessful vice-presidential candidacy a few years back.  I am not her biggest fan, but I was sickened to see someone so quickly use this terrible tragedy to try to blame "the other side."  Then I saw that he wasn't alone.

I work in a state psychiatric hospital.  I saw the things the (alleged) shooter wrote, they look familiar to me - professionally.  They look like evidence of the disorganized mind of someone who is suffering from mental illness.

Why do we try to make sense of the senseless?  To try to blame a politician for this is cheap.

Maybe if we think it isn't so random, we can feel "safe."

This world is not safe, it never has been and never will be.  When we know this isn't our final destination, I guess that is easier to live with.

God bless those who died, those who are fighting to survive, and the rest of us too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Friday of January 2011

Notre Dame Catholic Church, Denver, Colorado

I woke up at my appointed time (4 a.m.) this morning and decided that my plan for the morning simply would not work.  I was supposed to spend an hour on the treadmill.  But it is First Friday.  I normally go to mass on First Friday.  So, at 4, I decided I really needed to forego my workout and go to mass instead.  And I stayed for rosary afterwards.  And still got to work very early.  

I have been thinking about how growing in holiness leads one to realize how horribly unholy one is.  Or at least This One.  At one time, I thought that going to mass on Sunday made me a Catholic.  I did a couple of other things, but my life was basically unchanged.  I still behaved pretty much like everyone else.  In time, I signed up for an hour of Eucharistic Adoration.  Maybe that is what changed my life.  

That hour from 5 to 6 a.m. on Thursdays each week came to be my favorite hour of all the week.  After about 6 months of weekly Eucharistic Adoration, I saw an ad in the bulletin for the Catholic Biblical School.  I had been checking into this school since the early 90s.  I always wanted to go because I have always had a deep love for Scripture.  But always there was a reason why I could not go.  For one thing, it is quite expensive!  But that year, in 2007, a new class was starting in a church nearby, on a night that I could attend, and I knew I could scrape up the money.  I remember calling the school's office and speaking to someone and realizing that I really, truly could do this!  I ran down the hall at work to tell a Catholic friend.  She was not thrilled for me.  I never understand why people don't jump for joy when I talk about Biblical School... but they don't.  In August of 2007, I started something that changed my life irrevocably when I attended my first Prayer Day and class.  

I thought I would turn into a Biblical Scholar.  I thought I would learn so much I would be able to argue successfully with my particularly argumentative Anglican friend who won every argument with me about my own religion.  I thought I would become a holy woman.  

And now almost four years later, I have a profound appreciation for my limitations.  I am not a very holy woman.  I am not a Biblical Scholar.  I know a lot more than I did.  I know more than most of the people I know, but that isn't something I say with pride.  I know I need to study for the rest of my life.  I am grateful that I will be able to do this.  It is the joy of my life.

I did learn enough to know that Jesus isn't some sweet guy who happens to be God and "understands" and "forgives" me every sinful thing I do.  When he speaks to the woman caught in adultery, he says "go and do not sin again," (John 8:11) he never says "I understand why you have behaved so badly, it's OK, keep on doing it."  Jesus is forgiving, but we must repent.  To repent is to have remorse for having offended God and requires a change in your life and a determination to avoid sin.  And there is no fooling God himself about whether or not we are truly repentant!  

I was also amazed to see that the God of the Old Testament was a lot more forgiving than Jesus of the New.  I always thought it was the opposite, but a careful study will reveal an entirely different story.

Anyway, back to me...  when I was a lukewarm Catholic, I was pretty self-satisfied and sure that I would someday get to heaven and get a nice pat on the back and a hearty welcome.   Now I believe in all of the things I scoffed at when I left the church and kept a big dose of skepticism about when I came back, namely: Satan, the devil, hell, and purgatory.   Now my best hope is purgatory.  

I have done so many terrible things (I know I sound like I am being dramatic, but trust me on this one), I don't know how I can ever be purified enough to be in heaven.  I had thought that confession erased all of this, but learned later that it didn't.   This is very frightening to me.  When I have read the writings of the Saints, I have been amazed at their being convinced of their own sinfulness!  If that is sinfulness, I am in deep, deep trouble!  

On the other hand, I don't want to fall into the trap of over-scrupulosity.  I think that itself can hide a multitude of sins.  But I do truly want to be pleasing to Jesus.  I want to be the person I was born to be, not the person I willfully decided to be.  I want to constantly be carrying out the will of God.  

Perhaps if God has been able to change my heart to the extent that he has, he still has more in store for me.  I do think the changes since 2006 are God-given.  I could not have produced them.  I want to keep growing and growing towards pleasing the Lord.   I guess with that will come an inability to tolerate my own sinfulness.  I also guess no one ever told me this would be easy!

Please forgive me for my inarticulateness - I am just a beginner.  I don't know the right words.  I hope to express my heart and these are words with which I am unfamiliar.  

Thank you so much if you have read this long thing.  I am so impressed with the generosity of spirit of the Catholic Bloggers who have come by and commented.  Thank you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How's your prayer life?

My friend Shadowlands has a wonderful post today about prayer.   I have been inspired by all of you bloggers with your prayer life.  I hope to emulate you.  

One thing I do religiously, if you will, is pray first thing in the morning.  I do brush my teeth and make a cup of coffee, but then I sit in my prayer chair and read my morning books, including the mass readings of the day, and then I do my own prayer and meditation.  This takes about a half hour.  It's not much, but it is not negotiable.  I do it every day.  The only time I don't is if I am in a hurry to get to mass.  

I pray as I go through the day, but not as much as I should.  And as far as rosaries?  I am not so good.  I resolve to be better, but I am not.  It is ironic because I love the rosary - I said it even in the years when I had left the church and barely believed in God at all.  I still held those beads and knew that Our Lady was listening to me as I said my Our Fathers and Hail Marys.  

Later, after my reversion to the faith, I came to believe that I ought to use my own words to talk to God, and I ought to use my own silence to listen.  Now I think I am changing again.  

As an assignment for Biblical School earlier this year, we read a wonderful book by Eugene Peterson, "Answering God, The Psalms As Tools for Prayer."  There is so much great stuff in that book, I could read it over and over, but one paragraph blew me away and changed the way I pray:
The Psalms likewise are infused with and surrounded by a genetic, cultural, worshiping, and believing heritage.  This canonical condition means that in the life of faith we don't make up original prayers that suit our private spiritual genius.  Prayer is not an original language, but a received language.  (p. 17)
I have since come to love the thought of the entire church repeating the same words daily, world-wide.  I love to pray the Psalms out loud and know that I am repeating the same prayers that Jesus learned as a child.   I love the idea of joining in the community of faith, that transcends geography and even time.

One would wonder why I don't spend more time doing just that!  I think I will go do that right now.

God bless you all.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Admonish Sinners?

Guardian Angels Cathedral, Las Vegas, Nevada - with a background of the Encore Hotel

I have exactly 12 minutes to write this.  With this topic, I should be taking 12 hours, not 12 minutes.  It is something that has been on my mind for the last month or more.  Maybe much much longer than a month.

One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to Admonish Sinners.  Yet we live in a culture of "Coexist" and "Live and Let Live."  We live in a culture of "it is none of my business what anyone else does."  I wonder.

This is sort of tangential to the topic, but maybe not... but this is going to be tangential anyway...  I have been plagued by one sin that I repeat, repent, confess, repeat, repent, confess, over and over and over again.... and again.... and again.  (and I am not going to tell you what it is!)  I have been so embarrassed to go to my own parish priest and confess the same thing over and over again, I have become familiar with confessionals all over the city.  I found one priest I particularly liked across town.  In August, I went to visit him again on a Saturday afternoon.  Imagine my surprise when he wasn't there.  In his place was a priest with a gruff voice and an even gruffer manner.  I shamefully mumbled this sin at the end of the litany of my sins.  Expecting the nice, nice words of a kind priest who tells me to not beat myself up.

Oh, no, that is not what he did at all!  He told me off!  He really, really told me off.  He told me how much I was displeasing Our Lord.  He said I was forgiven, but I was supposed to really repent of my sin.


Do you know that to this day I have not repeated that sin?  Oh, I have been tempted.  But when tempted, I remember what that priest said, and the temptation melts away.

So maybe if every Catholic in the world would simply say something when someone took the name of the Lord in vain?  Or didn't laugh when a filthy joke was told?  Or didn't indulge in gossip?  Or encouraged their friends to go to mass or confession?  Or encouraged their friends to not have an abortion?  Or encouraged their friends to not encourage their daughter to have an abortion?   Or talked to a homosexual friend?

Just thinking... it might be a different world if we would stand up and talk about what we believe in.  It doesn't have to be obnoxious.

OK, my time's up.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I have taken an informal poll of folks about my little melt-down of Sunday.  I wanted to see how many people thought my wearing running clothes to mass was a big deal.  Not too many people did.  Most of those who did were my age or older.  Not that they thought I was "bad," or "wrong," but that they understood why I felt uncomfortable about it.  

A few years ago, I decided to be a "trend-setter" and wear a veil to mass.  I conducted an internet search to purchase one.  I found a beautiful lace mantilla and bought it. (I abandoned wearing it after a few trials.) I read the reviews of the people who had bought one.  Someone had written that the reports of people pinning kleenex to their heads "back in the day" had to have been "urban legends."  Well, let me tell you - that is no urban legend.  We really did that.  We would no more go into church without covering our heads than we would go in without clothing today.  It just was.not.done.  It was better to have a kleenex or a handkerchief on our heads than nothing.  And everyone had a bobby pin and a kleenex or a hankie in their purse - back then.  

This makes me sound like I am a hundred years old, but when I was a child, my mother would take me downtown to go shopping - we would both wear dresses, hats, and white gloves.  I wore black patent leather shoes with white socks.  My mother wore heels and stockings with seams up the back.  My father wore a suit.  This is how we dressed.  This is how we went to church each week too.  It wasn't because we were trying to impress anyone.  It was because that was how it was done.  It was how you showed respect.   On special occasions, my father would have corsages in the refrigerator, ready to pin on "the girls" before mass.  

So, this is my mind set.  And I am beginning to realize it is very different from most of the rest of the world which is now younger than me.  They did not dress in hats and white gloves to go downtown to go shopping.  They dressed in pajama bottoms with "pink" emblazoned on the rear, and popped over to the mall.  So how shall these same people go to mass?  With hearts probably more fervent than mine, that is how!

But I cannot change the fact that I was born in 1951.  I was raised when I was raised and I have the values I have.  I still believe that I dress as nice as I can to show that I have respect for what I am doing.  Not to impress anyone, but to show respect.  I don't have mink coats or diamond jewelry - I am not dressed to impress, but I hope that I show that I know I am someplace pretty special when I am in God's house!  

And now I need to bathe and dress my body to show that I know that I am in the workplace and that I am there to work!  And that I respect that too!  

Sunday, January 2, 2011


This morning I did something I would normally not do.  Something that others would do, but I wouldn't. But I did it this morning. 

My running club normally meets on Saturday mornings.  This week our Saturday morning run was canceled due to ridiculously cold weather.  We were to meet on Sunday instead.  I knew I could not go to mass last night.  I wondered how I could go to mass this morning and still go for my run.

I figured it out.  I could go to mass 'on the way' to my run.  Which meant I would attend mass in my running clothes.  Now, let me hasten to tell you that they are in no way immodest.  But they are not church clothes, they are running clothes.  

After mass, while driving to the canyon where we ran (see above), one of my Catholic friends phoned me.  I told her how upset I was about showing up at mass wearing inappropriate clothing.  She disagrees with me about what is appropriate clothing for mass.  She told me that God is happy to have me show up wearing my running clothes.  She said He is happy to have a hip running woman at mass.  

I told her that I do not agree.  

I think I showed a blatant disregard for God and his home.  I think I told him and everyone else that mass was an after thought.  That running was important, and mass was something I could "squeeze in" on the way.  

I told her that next week I am going to go to mass at the Latin Mass Community of the Archdiocese.  I will wear a dress and a veil and go act right.  She was horrified and said I am moving backward.  

I probably shouldn't even write anything here about the Latin Mass - I certainly don't want to enter the debate, but I will just say that I want mass to be holy.  I grew up wearing a veil or a hat, and a dress, never pants (and certainly not running pants!), and praying in latin.  I know those prayers like the back of my hand.  

One time I went to the pastor of my church (who is now a monsignor) and asked him how I could become less judgmental.  I told him I didn't understand how people could come to mass in sweat pants and shorts!  I thought he would lecture me about not judging.  Instead he told me how he pondered the same thing.  He said he often thought about what his parishioners would wear if they were invited to the home of the President of the United States - they would wear only their finest! And yet, each week they come to the house of God in any old thing.   I gave that a lot of thought.

Just not when it was inconvenient this morning.

I will make amends for this....

Saturday, January 1, 2011


It is far too late in the day for me to be writing anything, but I didn't want to let this first day of the new year go by without writing something.  

I have had a wonderful day, full of friends and family.  I got to watch my baby granddaughter for the afternoon while my son and daughter-in-law took a drive to the mountains.  Their first outing without the baby since she was born almost 3 months ago.  It was so good to spend hours with this little tiny baby.  

I went to a party tonight where I was going to bring a pie.  I had wanted to make a treacle tart having read about Ros'.  But when I went to the grocery store to try to purchase treacle and golden syrup, as I suspected, these things were not to be purchased in Denver, Colorado.  So, I made a cheesecake - much to the delight of my friends.   I am going to find a way to purchase treacle and golden syrup and make a treacle tart one of these days, just not today.

I had wanted to write a prayer for 2011.  But I am too tired.  Tomorrow perhaps.  

I know that God knows my heart and he can help me form the prayer I need.

Thank you.