Thursday, March 31, 2011

I realized today

It hit me like a bolt of lightening today... Safety is not really the best thing to wish for our offspring.  I want my son to be safe.  I don't want him in the middle east.  I don't want him gone for a year.  I don't want him to not see his infant daughter for a year, and be away from his wife... etc.  

But then I thought - he could be "safe" in prison.  He could be "safe" on his sofa collecting unemployment.  He could be "safe" doing a million different things that wouldn't be the best thing for him.

I don't know what's best.  I don't know the mind of God.  I just know that I cannot impose my will on my life and the lives of those I love.  I just don't know what is best, even though I think I do most of the time.  

I can pray, and I can be as helpful as I can (without being overbearing) to my daughter-in-law and new precious grandbaby.  That is a good use of my time and energy.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A New Rosary

Last week I wrote about wanting a wooden rosary - something more austere than the sparkly red beads I am currently using.  

But I am who I am, and I am afraid I am so terribly weak.

I just spent at least 2 hours online designing a wonderful beautiful (semi-expensive) rosary (from  And I clicked "buy" and it will be put together to my specifications and mailed to me.  I think I will have it by the end of next week.  

Black wooden beads, silver crucifix, silver center.  

Why do I have to do this?

Is this sheer vanity, or is this actually putting my money where my mouth is?  

I know I can pray just as well on the pink plastic beads strung on white string that I can find in most adoration chapels.  But I love beautiful things.  And when I leave this earthly plane, I can give these to my son as they are "men's" beads.  

(I have spent most of today in bed with a migraine and then the sickness that comes from the medication that gets rid of the headache.  If not for a laptop computer, I would not have the ability to do these things :), at least not from bed.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lenten Report

This is the Adoration Chapel at my old church - in which I am now spending many blessed hours a week.

How is everyone's lent going?  I guess we are half-way through.  I love Lent.  It leads to Easter, the holiest day of the year.  

The most amazing thing about this Lent has been spending so much time at Adoration.  I really only said I would go to mass *or* adoration because I didn't think I could get to mass every day.  And truly, I can't.  But I have found the hours at adoration to be life changing.  

Obviously, for what adoration is.   

But then also, to have the experience of showing up at different Adoration Chapels throughout the city and finding they are full at 7 a.m., or noon, or 5:00 p.m.  Usually full of silent people who are very devoutly praying.  To share silence with Jesus and others for an hour is something I can't even put to words.  If you have never spent any time at Eucharistic Adoration, please try it.  I don't think it is hyperbole to say that it will change your life.  

There were other things I did for Lent that I am too tired to write about now.  This is one of the more fruitful Lents of my life.  It is good.

Monday, March 28, 2011


It is pouring snow outside!  It may do damage to the buds that were tricked into budding over the last week because of warm weather, but it will help tremendously towards abating the wildfires that are threatening our state (and its budget).

Two weeks ago my elder brother called to ask me to subscribe to and to do some work on our family tree.  It seems my other brother told him that I could "make a computer sing!"  and that sounded good to him since he could get nowhere with the family tree.

I am a person who has almost insatiable curiosity.  That is a positive way of saying that I am incredibly nosey.  So, delving into a family tree has been lots of fun - and a huge time eater!  I got all the way back to the Revolutionary War on my mother's side - my Great-Great Grandfather.  I found pictures of the tombstones of this Great-Great, and his wife, my Great-Great Grandmother.  I found a photo of my grandfather who died long before I was born and my mother never really spoke of.  He was a wildly successful business-man - which I didn't know.  My brother told me that my mother never talked about him because he left them penniless when he died unexpectedly and she had a terrible time with that.

I am the descendent of a long line of huge families - my mother was the youngest of eight.  He mother was the youngest of ten.  I am the youngest of five.  These parents were still having children when they were past forty.  My grandmother was 42 when my mother was born.   So, my family is very very old.

Anyway, my point is not to advertise for (but this could be an unsolicited advertisement because I have been amazed by what I could find there), but to tell you what most struck me.

Out of all these lines of family, there was a single little Catholic who came from Ireland in the early 1800s.  My Paternal Grandmother's great grandfather.  So, this line contained the only Catholics.  My grandmother was a Catholic who married an Englishman - Anglican.  My grandfather emigrated from Birmingham to the US in the late 1800s.  He had traveled the world and continued to do so.  When he traveled the world, he found Catholic Churches everywhere he went - and they were all the same everywhere (in Latin).  He converted because of this.

My father was raised Catholic (two of my uncles were priests).  He married a non-catholic.  My mother converted after their marriage.  So, five of us were raised Catholic, and remain so.  Two of my brothers married non-catholics - who later converted.  Their children are Catholic.

I'm not sure I am articulating what I am trying to say.

As I looked at all of these people, I felt like I saw one little seed, sewn 150 years ago, which has now grown into quite a garden!  I hope it continues to flourish.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Living Color

Yesterday after my run and a movie and shopping with a friend, I got into my car and was amazed by the passenger seat of my car.  I took a photo (which refuses to upload onto the blog for now, but I shall try later).  There was a pink shirt, a pink jacket, a colorful bag from Whole Foods, and many other things.  But the thing that struck me was the color.  It was vivid color.

Sometimes when I am struggling, the world seems to go into black and white.  Or maybe sepia.  But the pinks and greens and purples seem to fade into the background to the point that I cannot even see them.  

Yesterday I saw the color and felt the joy.

I think this must be what heaven is like.  

Seeing and feeling the things that we just could not see while here.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Morning

I'm off this morning to join my running club.  I have not been able to join them for the last 3 weeks, so it will be wonderful to see everyone and get out amongst the living.  I am meeting another friend to see a movie after my run.

I've had this hunkered down mentality that simply has to end.

Maybe the day off today and tomorrow will get me back on my feet.  I have felt utterly off kilter all week.

I apologize for not having anything worth posting....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Beginning of the Odd Year

Yesterday I hugged my son and told him I loved him.  He told me "I love you Mom."  Which, if you don't know, hearing a grown man utter those words to you is the sweetest thing on earth...  anyway, I drove away and cried.  Great huge heaving sobs that left me gasping for breath.  I lost it in other words.

I am not a good "brave face" person.  If I am feeling it, it is there.  I can put aside my feelings at work and be professional, and I thank God I can, and that I have the opportunity to.  But if someone asks me, I don't try to pretend that I am ecstatic that my son is going to be gone to the middle east for a year, leaving his young wife and infant daughter.   I think it would be dishonest to do so.

I went through a year where my son was in Iraq - during the worst year of that war.  I lived through that. I did it with what I would consider "grace."  The grace that comes from faith.  I don't have the kind of faith that tells me that nothing bad will ever happen to me, but the grace to know that God will get me through anything that does come my way.  My friends thought I did that well too, so I know I am not being delusional.

But I am not ready yet.  I am not there yet.

Here's where I will get into politics - which I intended not to do on this blog.  But during the 2008 election, I watched perfectly intelligent people seem to lose their minds when they jumped onto the Obama bandwagon.  My only hope was that they were really much, much smarter than me and that I just failed to understand what the guy was saying - which seemed to me to make no sense at all.  I hoped this.  And I even hoped it into the last 2 years.  But the last week has convinced me that I might have been right in believing the guy is a good looking, intelligent, articulate, well-connected guy with no real moral compass.

The middle east is blowing up and we have insinuated ourselves into the mess with no clear idea of why.

And this is no longer academic for me - if it ever was.

So, the beginning of the "odd year."  The TV has to be shut off or turned to mindless things where hard news shan't bother my pretty little head.  I am grateful for my lenten resolve to go to mass or adoration for the duration of lent.  Those are the best hours of my day right now.  I may have to continue that past Easter.  I will make myself busy, busy, busy.  I will find ways to serve others so that I am not thinking of myself 24/7.

I fear if I don't walk this very fine line I will lose my mind.

And the rosary every day.  Oh, what consolation I find in that!  I have many rosaries, but my favorite came from the Vatican - a gift from a friend.  Red glass beads.  I think I might buy myself a rosary with smooth wooden beads - smooth, without all the edges and facets of my beautiful red beads.  Austere beads.

Any prayers are greatly appreciated.
p.s., This evening as I was driving to adoration from work, I stopped to give a man some money.  It was after I drove up to the redlight and stopped that I realized he wasn't begging!  He was just sitting by the road, not even at the light.  He had no sign, no outward signs that he was begging, and yet, I just made the assumption, stopped the car, rolled down the window and shoved a bill at him.  He took the money just the same....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I had lunch with my son and daughter-in-law.  He leaves at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow.  I cried all the way back to work and then sort of hibernated in my office this afternoon.

This morning there were 12 people at Adoration.  All of them were absolutely silent.  It was a wonderful, wonderful experience.

"When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea."  John 21:7

Oh, I pray that I would be like Peter and spring into the sea so to quicker greet the Lord.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Gift for my Son

Almost five years ago when my son was leaving for Iraq, I purchased a St. Michael the Archangel medal for him.  I gave it to him the night before he left and explained that St. Michael was the patron saint of soldiers.   I thought he would roll his eyes at me, but he was very polite and told me he would take it with him and "might" put it on.  

A year later when he came home, I noticed a silver chain around his neck, and assumed it was dog tags.  After he was home for a few days, he pulled the St. Michael medal from under his shirt to show me and told me he had worn it ever since he left.  

That medal stayed around his neck until very recently.  I thought maybe he had taken it off.

Yesterday I told him I needed to get him a gift before he left.  I guess he knows his mom, because he told me he needed another St. Michael medal... I told him that was exactly what I was going to give him!  The chain on his old one had broken.  He fixed it once, but it broke again and he lost the medal.  

I went to the Catholic Store on my lunch break today and purchased a new one.  I don't think I like this one as well, but regardless, it is still a St. Michael the Archangel medal.  For my son who will be not fighting a war this time, but being in war zones just the same.

Prayers, Prayers, Prayers....

Guilt or Innocence

The Anchoress has a great post about Fr. Corapi.

I have been praying about this, as I am sure many of you have been.  I particularly love this line from The Anchoress:

"Old Scratch has his hand in all of this, because — whatever the real story is — someone is lying, so the Father of Lies must be a part of it, in any case. And it’s Lent."

I know that I am not God, therefore I cannot possibly know what the truth is.  I have been wrong so many times.  Like recently when I wrote a letter to the state advocating the restoration of nursing license for an RN who had a long history of diversion.  She got her license back, and now faces charges for stealing oxycontin from old people.  And she doesn't even deny it.  And she was doing that when I wrote the letter for her.  I believed her 100% when she said she wasn't.  She was very convincing.

I will not judge whether Fr. Corapi is innocent or not.  I will hope and pray he is.  That's what's appropriate for me to do.  I really hope he is innocent because he is someone I have listened to and admired.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Power of a Word

This morning at mass, the sermon was given by the deacon.  He talked about "March madness" and related it to the Transfiguration somehow - that I don't even remember.  But he did mention Ash Wednesday and how at the vigil mass, the church was so packed that there were people standing in the back and along the sides.  I guess the point was that people like to get ashes, even if they suck as church-goers.

I remembered going to a different church one year for Palm Sunday.  It is a church I attend sometimes, but not very often.  But I frequently find different churches to go to that have masses that fit my schedule.  I like going to different churches.

On that Palm Sunday, I sat down and "overheard" a pretty audible conversation between two men seated behind me (and my hearing is poor at best).  They went on and on about how the "Christmas and Easters" just can't miss getting their palms.  How it crowded up the church.

So, the good news is:  I am not a "C&E," I am not a marginal Catholic, I am a church attender.  All the time.  But imagine if you were a person, like I once was, who was just trying to find her way home - to the church.

I try to remember that when I want to judge people.

Within Three Days

 Friday morning on my way to work after mass
Saturday afternoon, the crocus have finally bloomed!

I find so much comfort in nature.  What seems to be hopeless is not.  What seems to be dead, isn't.  What seems to be guaranteed a long life may not be.  Etcetera.  The lessons are lovely in the spring.  

The birds are singing and I love it.  I don't know how I live through every winter.  It is so difficult for me.  I do believe it is called Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Now.  But then Now we pathologize every single vagary of humanity.  

So, I was terribly upset about my son leaving for a year overseas.  I still would prefer he didn't - as would his wife.  

But last Friday morning, I watched endless videos of "safe" cars and houses, full of "safe" people, in a "safe" country - being swept away in an utterly unpredictable event.  Imagine drowning in your own bed, as it is swept, inside your house, down the street.  I cannot imagine.  

I cannot imagine a lot of things.  I haven't imagined a lot of things that have actually happened in my life and the lives of those I love.  I have, however, imagined a whole lot of things (usually dreadful) that never ever took place.  What a waste of time, energy, and heartache.  

I will trust God that he will give me the grace to get through whatever I need to get through.  And try not to worry about it before it even happens.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Joseph's Day

That's a photo of the Lemon Curd Strawberry Tart I made for my guests today.  They liked it.  It was a lovely time.  I am so blessed to have a nephew who lives in the state  - and he and his wife and kids actually like to come see me when they come to town.  

Today would have been my mother's 97th birthday.  She has been gone for 40 years now.  I was only 19 years old when she died.   

Today is my oldest granddaughter's 11th birthday.  She is having a party with friends at the roller skating rink, so I haven't seen her yet.  I may end up not seeing her at all today.  But I will take her shopping for her birthday present, and that will be very special.   She wants clothes.  She is getting to be that age.  

My nephew's family brought along a student from Taiwan.  I am so embarrassed!  When I was introduced to him, I thought they said his name was "Wayne," which I thought was a very odd name for a Chinese boy.  After a while, I realized they were calling him "Wang," not Wayne.  Eeesh.  What a hillbilly I can be at times!  

OK, I am not on anything even remotely resembling a topic fitting for this blog, so I will sign off.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lenten Report

We are now over a week into Lent.  How is everyone doing?

I have made good on going to either mass or adoration every day.  I have come to love adoration even more than I already did.  I have the codes to get into two different adoration chapels at churches that are relatively close to work (4.5 miles and 6.5 miles).

I have quit my own brand of gluttony.  Does saying it is "my own brand" make it sound less like a deadly sin?  Probably not.  I guess I call it that because I am not anorexic or bulimic.  I am not grossly overweight.  But I exercise a lot.  And believe me, I am not thin.  So in one week of not eating like a pig, I lost 3 lbs.  That is measure of whether I am really doing what I said I would do.

This afternoon at adoration, a woman came to the chapel.  She didn't know the code, so someone let her in.  She made a lot of noise.  She came and sat in the pew right behind me.  I was sitting and she was kneeling, with her face in my hair.  I don't know why she chose that place - the chapel had only 3 others in it at that time.  Instead of being myself, I prayed for patience.  I felt her presence, because she was very very close to me (in my personal space, one might say), and sensed that she was very troubled.  She stayed only for five or ten minutes and then left.  Just as noisily as she arrived.

Thank God I didn't get angry.  And when I say "Thank God," that is exactly what I mean.  Left to my own devices, I would have huffed and puffed and moved away from her.  And that could not possibly be helpful to someone who is suffering terribly.

I pray God will continue to work on me to make the person HE intended me to be, instead of the person I created through my own self-will.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Utterly Exhausted

I took this photo tonight while I was at church for Adoration.  Joyce had posted this painting on her blog yesterday or the day before.  I think it is a wonderful thing to look at while waiting in line for confession (or reconciliation), pondering this father and son - and brother.  

I am too too tired.  I have too too much to do.  I have too too much going on in my life, in my family, at my job.

Today I learned the woman in the office next to mine has been laid off.  Also several more people.  And then my boss came to tell me he wouldn't be my boss anymore.  Someone else (who I like a great deal) will be.  But I did that great big verboten thing for a woman my age to do - I cried.  I love my boss.  He is almost the stereotypical psychiatrist.  The absent minded professor, the brilliant person who just doesn't know where he left his car keys.  He said we would go out and "get drunk" after all this is over... he knows I don't drink.  I am sure he didn't mean we would get drunk, just that we all need some levity, to blow off some steam, some humor, some lightness.

My new boss is a lovely woman who actually has an understanding of what I do at work.  She is a Catholic!  She has been a friend, I hope this new role won't ruin that.

But I am too tired and I felt overwrought all day long.  I need to find a way to get some down time in my life.  And it isn't happening any time soon.  I am having a huge family lunch on Saturday - and I don't know what to make.  I will figure it out.  And my nephew, his wife, and their children may have to see my house when it isn't very clean, because I don't see any cleaning happening before Saturday morning.

Sorry.  I am whelmed.  Tomorrow is a new day.

And today is a day when I can thank God that I am still gainfully employed, and have so many blessings I don't have time to count them.  (but maybe I can start to count them, like sheep, as I drift off to sleep.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Trying not to Panic

More of last year's flowers... these were not even at my house, they were in a local park.

I am listening to the news since I just got home.  It is horrifying.  How can 6 nuclear energy plants melting down not impact the whole world?

I was on one of the units today at work and was struck by the fact that the patients were sitting in the dayroom, glued to the television set - watching the coverage of Japan.  My friend, who has the ability to tell them to knock it off, just questioned staff on the unit, but did not mandate that it stop.  I cannot imagine how it could be beneficial for a patient in a psychiatric hospital to watch this all day long.

I had meetings at work all day long.  I had one tonight.  I only managed to get 4 miles in on the treadmill.  I flew from one thing to another all day long.  I have not got enough hours in the day for all I am trying to do.

And then in the middle of my day, I went to a nearby church for Eucharistic Adoration.  It was like an island of paradise in my day.

There were eight other people in the chapel with me!  At noon, on a weekday, eight people took time out of their days to go kneel with Our Lord.

Say what you will about the world going to hell in a hand basket, the fact that wherever I go to Adoration, there are others kneeling there with me tells me a different story.  It is a good story.

The Truth.  The objective Truth.

Thank You Lord Jesus.

First Tuesday in Lent

This photo was obviously not taken recently.... see the green leaves and red flowers?  This little prayer area is in the parking lot at my church.  Unfortunately, 2 years ago, a horrible hail storm came through and decimated that tree and most of the other shrubs.  Someone comes by in the winter and wraps the statue of the Blessed Virgin with scarves and other woolens - to keep her warm?  And I have seen an older man drive up on Saturday afternoons with a truckload of pots of flowers - he unloads them and places them about her.  It is very sweet.

My computer is acting up and just erased an entire paragraph.  Maybe I wasn't meant to complain to you about how late I stay at Biblical School on Monday night - and how difficult Tuesday morning is for me.    Or how I cannot possibly run 5 miles this morning, get to mass, and to work by 8 a.m.  Or how being on the board of my HOA cuts into my schedule tonight - I have to be at a meeting at 7 p.m.    This all feels overwhelming to me.

Of course, I could be running now instead of blogging.  And I can make the decision to go to Adoration at lunch time today (since I am going to EITHER mass or adoration every day for lent).  And then be able to do whatever I have to do this evening.

Looking at what is going on in Japan really puts my ridiculous problems into perspective.

On 9/11/01, my daughter called me as soon as she woke up and saw what was going on.... she thought I would make her feel better.  I did no such thing.  We were on the phone and watching the horror unfold on television together.  When the second tower fell, I cried and said "The whole world just changed."  I knew there would be war and that our charmed lives as Americans had ended.

As I watch the horror in Japan, I have the same feeling.  This is going to change everything.

And I think at this time, all I can do is pray.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Conditional Christian?

I fear I have opened a can of worms, and I guess I will now dump them out and have a look.

I was a little bit shocked at some of the comments on my post about an unfriendly church.

Do I need a friendly church in order to worship God?  Nope.  What do I need?  Not much of anything.  Just everything the Church gives me - and that is immeasurable.  Not much else is necessary.

I wonder how many times I have played a starring role in someone's story about some awful woman at mass.  I pray that no one has left the church because of anything I have ever done.  And I would be truly contrite if I knew that I contributed to anyone's ill feeling toward the church.

But I know that ultimately we are all responsible for our own decisions and actions.

The people at my current church aren't friendly.  But ultimately, what does that matter?  I am an adult.  I have the ability to reach out to others if I want to take the risk to do so.    There is a wonderful priest at the church, and that is why I have made the decision, like a reasonable adult, to attend that church instead of the friendly one down the road.

If the friendliness of my fellow parishioners was really that important to me, I would go to my former parish down the road.  But going to mass is not about socializing.  It is not about "feeling good" and getting my ego stroked.  It is about God, not me.

And I would ask that you keep a charitable tone in your comments.  It's God's job to judge, not ours.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


My least favorite time change will occur tonight.  I am a morning person, so changing the time so that it isn't light until after 7 a.m. isn't something I think is a great idea.  But I will live through it, just as I do every year.

I have been on the phone for hours this evening.  I am always grateful when people call me to tell me about the tragedies in their lives.  It can feel heavy (and dark), but I am honored by their trust in me.  And I am gladdened to know that they are probably looking for what I am sure to tell them... pray, trust God, pray some more, etc.

But it is amazing the horrible things that take place in this world. I just erased a long paragraph about the deaths, suicide, despair, etc.  There is no reason to put it here.  But I know of many broken hearts tonight.  I will pray for them tonight and tomorrow.

I will go to mass in the morning and be grateful that I can.

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

This is a terrible photo from the Adoration Chapel I have been spending a lot of time in lately.  It feels very very irreverent to be snapping photos, but somehow I do it anyway.  Discreetly, of course.  That's why it isn't a better photo.

Today my son and daughter in law are going fishing.  Guess who gets the baby?  Yes, me!!!

My son is leaving in 10 days for his new job overseas - he will be gone for a year and isn't real sure where he is going to end up, he starts in Kuwait.  I am trying to let go of my anxiety.  I talked to him last night, and unfortunately, I was being a selfish mom.  Heaving and sighing about his being gone for a year.  He finally said "I gotta go, I have a crying baby here."  Well, that makes two crying babies son, your mother and your daughter.  I need to knock it off.

The other night as I was entering my old church to go to the Adoration Chapel, the woman coming out of the church said hello to me so nicely.  The other adorers in the chapel were pleasant, in a silent, reverent way.  When I called the woman who keeps the schedule of adorers, she was delighted to hear from me.  I am now an official substitute.  When she heard the hours I was available, she was really delighted - from 4 to 7 a.m. / 7 days a week.

I have been going to my "new" church for nearly 4 years now and not a soul says hello to me.  I volunteered for a couple of things, just to get to know people, but still no one spoke to me.  I went to a pancake breakfast there recently, just to socialize, and the couple I sat with spoke to each other in Hungarian the entire time I sat at their table.  I left in tears, I felt so dismissed.  When I sit in the "gathering space" at the "welcome table" to sign up new parishioners, the ushers stand right in front of me and talk to the people they know.  And never even acknowledge that another person is right there in their midst.   BUT, I love the pastor of the church.  I like the fact that the church is so much more traditional than most in the area.   I guess with that, comes the fact that the congregation is mostly in their 70s, and aren't much interested in making nice with people they don't know.

I can feel my heart being tugged back to my old church.  I have so many friends there.  I feel like I belong there.  But I have huge problems with the pastor of the church and many, many of the things he does.  But then again, he did such things as instituting perpetual adoration at that church, and believe me, that was an undertaking!

Okay, enough of this stream of consciousness from me!

I am sure I don't need to remind anyone to pray for the victims of the tragedy and unfolding catastrophe in Japan.  I will be doing so and I know you will too.

Have a wonderful Saturday.

Friday, March 11, 2011


For the people of Japan, who have experienced an 8.9 magnitude earthquake.  And then a Tsunami.

Hawaii is evacuating the coastal areas.  The tsunami is also expected to hit the west coast of the US.


I'm heading to mass now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


After work tonight, I went to the Adoration Chapel at my old church.  It was nice to be back in a place where I have spent so many hours.  They are hours that I truly believe changed my life.  

I was so happy to see that there were four other people there during the hour I was there.   When I had an assigned time for adoration, it was at 5 a.m. on Thursday mornings.  I shared that time with a couple.  I don't know that anyone else ever showed up.  Of course, they wouldn't have been able to get in the church at that hour, but I don't think anyone was trying to get in.  

It is so encouraging to me to see so many people taking time out of their day to spend in the presence of Our Lord.   

As I said, I believe that my early attempts at adoration truly changed my life.   I think any attempts to draw close to God are welcomed by him.  However puny they may seem.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Hobo

At mass this morning, the priest asked us to think of ourselves as hobos this lent.   I thought it was an interesting thought.  And then he explained the origin of the word.

It came from the Civil War era.  It is short for "Homeward Bound."  So, these poor destitute soldiers, trying to make their way back home were called "hobos."   And of course, we are just like them.  We are on our way home.  

I love that.

And then I starved for the rest of the day.  

Oh, I am not good at all at denying my appetite.  But if I want to get home, I better work on it.

God bless you all at the beginning of this Lent.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Lent starts with Ash Wednesday - for everyone, not just me.  I will start my day with mass and ashes at 6:30 a.m.

I have been pondering and praying about what to "do" for lent.  I wanted to add in some activity as well as well as give up something.

I have decided to go to mass or adoration every day of lent.  And also to give up a whole host of horrible dietary excesses.  This may not sound like a lot, but take my word, it is.

My prayer is that this lent readies me for Easter.

Question about Ashes

The Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday tells us  "Jesus said to his disciples: 'Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly father.  When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others.  Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be in secret.  And your father who sees in secret will repay you.'"  (Matthew 6:1-6)

All of the readings speak to not showing off our piety.  When we are fasting, we should not look like we are fasting, etc.

Then we are supposed to leave our ashes on all day.  It seems rather "showy" to me.  I do it.  And all day long at work, I get the "you have something on your forehead."  "Yes, I know, it is Ash Wednesday." "OH! sorry."  

It does, in one way, seem like a good way to witness to people that there are Christians among them.  On the other hand, if I am reading the Gospel right, it is showing off and shouldn't be done.  

So, my wise readers, what is the answer to this thing I have wondered about for so many years?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Question about the Penitential Rite

I am beginning to realize where the bags under my eyes have come from the last few days.  I thought I was just unaccountably tired, but I think I am facing yet another winter illness.  I will pray that I can nip this one in the bud...  I might be a tad cranky.  I am not sure.  But I have a question that has been nagging at me for years and this just might be the time to ask.

So, at mass, we have the penitential rite.  The priest asks us to call to mind our sins, acknowledge our failures, etc.  Then, if it is a daily mass and there is no deacon present, we get to pray:
I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.  
That is one of my favorite prayers.

But if there is a deacon present, or sometimes even if not, the Kyrie is immediately launched into.  No moment to "call to mind our sins," no anything other than the deacon singing "Lord have mercy."

To me, that doesn't feel like the same thing at all.

I really feel the need to call to mind my failings and ask for the prayers of the Virgin Mary, all the angels and saints, and my brothers and sisters too.

That's my question... are these really the same thing?  Technically I know they are, but they feel so different.

A New Test

I have been listening this morning to the news as I perused blogs.  I hear a story of a "wonderful breakthrough medical technology!"

A new prenatal test for Down Syndrome.

It seems it won't be as dangerous to "healthy babies."

It will be 100% lethal for the Down Syndrome babies I assume.  But nobody said one word about that.

Is there another reason to test for Down Syndrome before giving birth?

Truly, maybe I don't understand.  I would be happy to find that I don't.  So, if you know another reason, let me know.

God help us.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

That's a photo from my run today.  I wasn't looking forward to being out for 8 miles, but now that it is done, I am glad I did it.  I couldn't join my running club yesterday since I was at the all day workshop.  So, today it was hard to go out by myself, but in many ways, the solitude was good.  

I am going to have a piece of pizza I froze last week and then take a nap.  It seems like a waste of a day off, but I am exhausted.  My face even looks exhausted!

Last night at mass, I tried not to be judgmental when I saw the drums, the flute player and the rest.  I tried to smile, but I have to tell you it was difficult.  There was some sort of calypso Allelulia recessional, the woman in front of me decided she should dance to it, her husband put his arm around her and patted her behind to the beat of the music.  Everyone was so HAPPY!  And I wasn't.  And this is one of the more traditional churches.  

But I know the evil one can easily use that little doorway into my soul.  And I must not let him.  

OK, it is nappy time.  I Love Sunday Afternoons.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Wonderful Day

I spent all day at a workshop given by the Biblical School today.  

The wonderful Dr. Peter Kreeft presented on "The Last Four Things," Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.  

Since I have been thinking an awful lot about death lately, this was a wonderful thing for me.  

If you are not familiar with Dr. Kreeft, please avail yourself of his books, he is a prolific author.  If you ever have a chance to see him, do so. 

I went from there to mass this evening.  I am absolutely wiped out from a day of thoughts so deep, but so encouraging.  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Who Will Pray?

Tomorrow I am going to the funeral of a co-worker's father.  And I used to work with her mother as well.  So, I have been acquainted with the deceased for almost 17 years.  It is terribly sad, he suffered a stroke and 2 weeks later was dead.  The funeral is at a funeral home.  The reception is at the Elks Club.

I know these folks used to be Catholic.  I am sad to see that there is no church funeral.  I don't know why there isn't.  And I have no right to judge.  So, I won't.  But I will pray.  I worry about people who have no one to pray for them once they have left this world.

Last summer my daughter and I took a car trip to San Antonio and North Padre Island, Texas.  We had a wonderful time.  We were gone for over a week.  On the way home, we had an experience neither of us will ever forget.

We left Amarillo early in the morning so that we could get through the I-25 corridor in Colorado before evening rush hour.  We ate fast food for lunch so that we would not lose any time.  We were laser focused on getting home in the least amount of time possible, and we were successful - by 2 p.m., we were only an hour from home.

And then traffic came to a complete and total stop.  We crept along at 2 or 5 mph occasionally.  We saw a sign that said that I-25 was shut down a few miles ahead.  It was a hot July afternoon, over 90º.  We turned off the AC and rolled down the windows.   I checked my iPhone for news about what was going on.  The local news called it a "traffic incident" which I thought was odd.

After about an hour being stuck in traffic, we were diverted off the highway.  I needed gas, and my daughter needed some things from the grocery store, so we stopped.  At the grocery store, my daughter and I both used the rest room. While there, we were chatting - I told her "we should be praying for the people who were in that accident instead of bitching about the traffic." My daughter agreed and said that she had been praying. 

When I exited the stall, there was a beautiful young girl standing there. She said to me: "That was my mom who died."

Oh no! I cried, she cried, I wrapped my arms around her and asked her if she was OK. I asked if she was in the car with her mom. Then she told me her mother wasn't in a car.... she jumped off the overpass onto the interstate highway. Oh dear Lord. My daughter then asked her how old she is - she is 13. I asked if she was alone. Her dad was out in the car waiting for her. He stopped there so that she could use the restroom. My daughter was hugging her and crying with her. We asked her name. I asked her mother's name. I told her I would pray for them both. It was one of the most intense experiences I have ever had.

After she left and we got into the car, there was a part of me that hoped that maybe she was some little girl who made up a big story. In my heart I knew she wasn't, but I wanted to believe that she is not a little girl whose mother just threw herself 25 feet off an overpass into 75 mile per hour traffic. Not a little girl who no longer has a mom. Not a little girl devastated. The rest of our trip was virtually silent - and very somber.

When I got home I checked the news - and sure enough, a woman parked her truck along the side of the road that afternoon. She left a suicide note in it and jumped into traffic. A tour bus hit her. The interstate highway was closed for an hour and a half. And a beautiful little girl will have to pick up the pieces for the rest of her life.

The next morning, I had coffee with some friends and told this story.  One of my friends was silent and I thought perhaps I had offended him.  Later that afternoon, he called me and asked me if I wanted to know "the rest of the story."  He was a friend of that family.  The woman who jumped was someone he knew from college.  He knew the daughter and her father.  He verified all that I already knew and told me more I didn't.

They were atheists.  The woman was an alcoholic who just could not get sober.  My friend felt that God had put us there for little Sara that day, just so she could see some kind people who were freely talking about God and prayer.  

I know that my daughter and I both felt touched by the Holy Spirit on this day.  I hope we did what we were supposed to do.  

My friend tells me that Sara still talks about my daughter.  I hope she remembers that we told her we would pray for her and her mother.  And I hope I never forget to pray for both of them, but particularly her mother.  

Who prays for all of these people?  

The Truth

I picked up a little booklet for lent at a church I go to for mass on Friday nights.  My old parish used to give these books away.  I was surprised to see a question about these little books on a blog of a priest.  He suggested there is only so much time in this world to read things, why not read something that you know is beneficial - and not this little book.  Oh dear.  

Well, I didn't know anything about the book.  I made the assumption (always the wrong thing to do) that since it was given away at a Catholic church, it was in keeping with Catholicism.  I should know better than that!  

So, how do I know who to listen to?  I pray, and I pray a lot.  God has blessed me with what one of my friends described as a great "b.s. detector."  That is good, but I still have used my own defective judgement from time to time, even though I have had a nagging thought that I was wrong, but it simply was more convenient to be wrong than right.

I am blessed to live in a society where I have the freedom to own a Holy Bible.  I can reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I read great Catholic authors.   And I make use of wonderful educational opportunities provided by my archdiocese, so that I will be armed with even more knowledge, and therefore discernment.  

I have learned that Jesus isn't a sweet guy with blonde hair and blue eyes who doesn't demand anything of me.   Reading actual scripture disabused me of many of my misconceptions about the God of the Old Testament, and Jesus of the New Testament.  All I need to do is reflect on the Crucified Christ to know that this is not some sweet guy.  This was bloody, painful, and brutal.  But was transformed into the salvation of the world. 

This is not the sweet life.  In my experience, this is the difficult life.  But it is the good life.  

(sorry, this post is disjointed.  I am in a hurry and not really awake yet.)

Have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


A few years ago, I became friends with a man who was studying to be a deacon in the Anglican church. He called that the "Holy Catholic" church.  He called us the "Roman Catholic" church.  Unfortunately, he knew more about my church than I did.  I never successfully argued with him.  He could quote chapter and verse to defend himself.  He could tell me about the Council of Nicea and other details of my religious  DNA of which I knew little or nothing.  He had particular disdain for my "brand" of religion and many of its practices.  And I never could defend it.  It pains me to say that.

I started my study at the Catholic Biblical School after having known him.  He really showed me how little I knew.  I wanted to not be so ignorant of my faith.

In these last four years, I have immersed myself in the Holy Bible and literature about it.  I have learned much.  And I have learned how little I know.  I have barely scratched the surface.  As I am in my 60th year, I pray I don't run out of time too soon.  I feel that I am now where I should have been in early adulthood.    But I am grateful to even be here because it is a long way from where I have been.

The relationship with the above referenced man also makes clear to me that God does indeed write straight with crooked lines.  Here was a man who was cranky, argumentative, and cock-sure about everything that came forth from his mouth.  His intentions toward me were less than pure.   And yet, he truly motivated me to do something different.

I am so grateful that God sometimes has spoken to me in my own limited vernacular.  It seems he has bestowed so much grace from some really puny attempts I have made.  I hope to be able to improve my efforts, my motivation, and the purity of my heart.   This is my heart's desire.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I am the mother of twins

 My twins are 32 years old today.  Do any other mothers feel like each of their children's birthdays is also a birthday for them?  I do.  I remember so clearly waking up at 7 a.m. that day and telling my husband, "this is it, we need to go to the hospital."   And at 2:02 p.m., my first daughter was born.  At 2:07, the second daughter made her appearance.  And sometime after that, the doctor said "There's another one."  I freaked out.  It was a stillborn baby.  Not fully developed.  He died sometime months before the birth.  I think I know when.  I had the flu and had a couple of contractions.  I think that was when he died.  

So, today, my daughters are 32.  And I am 32 years older than the 27 years old I was that day.  Their father and I have been divorced for 25 years.   I feel like I am a hundred years old today.

I took the day off today so that I could cook a big meal.  But I am not cooking.   I am not sure who is coming over tonight since there was a disagreement yesterday that got ugly.  I didn't sleep well last night since I was having nightmares.

We all love one another.  We are very close.  One of my daughters is a problem child and always has been.  She is doing well now but she has decided to be difficult about her birthday.  My other daughter is hurt and angry that her sister is going to "ruin MY birthday one more year."  

We will make the best of whatever we have to celebrate today.  It will break my heart if it is only with one daughter.  But I will save my tears for another day.  

Life gets so complicated sometimes.  I would prefer a nice simple straightforward family, but that is not what I have got.  So I will pray for God's blessings and make the best of what reality is today.
Post Script:  Twin A talked Twin B into going with us to the Ethiopian Restaurant tonight.  This is one of our favorite family things to do.  So, I am happy about that - and happy that I have taken a day off to cook, but instead, I have a day off to do nothing!!!