Wednesday, March 31, 2010

holy week

Holy Week, so far.... I remember when we were young, we did not have school during Holy Week.  But now, we do.

So far, this year, I think we've done a decent job of keeping it holy in our family. I was able to make it to Mass and confession on Monday.  I had a meeting Tuesday morning, so Mass was out, but we made it to a Penance service Tuesday night, so that dear hubby and one of my offspring who had not been to confession yet during Lent, could go.  There were 6 priests, and probably 150 penitents.  It was scheduled from 7:00 to 8:30, but when we left at 8:45, there were still 4 priests hearing confessions - each with 5 or 6 people still in line.  It was good to see.

While I was standing in line (I was a place-holder for dear hubby) I was whispering to the person standing next to me.  (I know her from Boy Scouts.)  She told me about an outdoor stations of the cross on Friday morning.  We might try to go to that.  I think the kids might appreciate it more than the time at church.  

The son who was with us last night, spent his time praying for his classmates and teachers, he told me.  The classmates got "Hail Mary's" and the teachers got "Our Fathers".   He jumped in a line early-on and was finished a long time before hubby, who moves a lot more slowly.

I was delighted to make it to Mass this morning.  There were probably a 100 or more people in attendance.  It was amazing for a daily Mass.  This is a small church, so it was almost like a  Sunday Mass.  I am used to sitting somewhat "alone" for daily Masses, but I had "neighbors" today. 

Tonight was a Tenebrae service at our parish.  Tenebrae is Latin for "shadows" or "darkness" and follows the basic format of the Liturgy of the Hours.  There were 3 Psalms chanted with responses and prayers following.  Then a reading from Revelations.  Then 3 Lamentations from Jeremiah were chanted.  I really need to read them, because it is a little difficult to pick it all up in chant.  "Return to me, O Jerusalem."  The Lamentations were each followed by a song.  My favorite was "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin. As each Psalm or Lamentation was chanted, the lights in the church were dimmed, until all that remained was the lights in the sanctuary.   That was followed by a homily by our pastor.  I could listen to him all day.  After the homily, the Magnificat was sung, intercessions were prayed.  There was a loud noise at the end (some say symbolizing the closing of the tomb and others say symbolizing and earthquake) while the lit Easter Candle was removed and then replaced in the sanctuary, and then all departed in silence. I have been to the Tenebrae service for several years, and it always leaves me just kind of ??  This was the best one yet!

Tomorrow is Holy Thursday.  I think that liturgy is one of my favorites.  Looking forward to it!

Leaving you with Chris Tomlin's "I Will Rise."  God's promise to us...

Monday, March 29, 2010

late blooms


I made it this morning!  Imagine that something would actually go according to plan!  But I was there at the appointed time for confession.  Perfect timing because another sinner was exiting the confessional just as I entered the church.  I think my heart always pounds on the way, but once I sit down and start, the nervousness mostly goes away.  "Bless me Father..."  Same formula I memorized back in third grade.  Only the sins have changed.  So I went down the list on my post-it-note.  Don't want to be too long-winded, but there are always things in life that can be done better.

 I mentioned at the end, my disappointment in this Lent.  Not that it was necessarily a sin, but I knew the good monsignor would have an honest assessment for me.    We talked for a few minutes about that. He told me not be be too quick to pronounce this Lent as a failure; that it might be a "late bloom".  I told him I was hoping!  (The above picture is from my garden - one of my Easter Lillies.  Looks like it might be a late bloom, too!)  He also said that it IS alright to let God know what we would like for Him to accomplish in our lives, as long as we understand that our part in that is to surrender and be open to whatever His plans might be.  He always wills our good; even if it's not in the way that we had planned.

It was a pretty good day today.  My assistant said my cheeks were rosy.  More likely from being out in the sun yesterday cutting the grass, but I told her it was that "after confession glow".  All that grace!  I'm ready for Holy Week.  The sins have been washed away, and I am sitting here doing my best to be open to whatever Jesus is accomplishing with me this Lent.

On the way home, I heard an Amy Grant song that I had not heard before.  The chorus says. 

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
I thought that fit the mood pretty well.

And here is one more song that makes me think of confession and God's awesome gift of mercy every time I hear it:  

Happy Holy Week!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

weekend review

How does it fly by so fast?  This weekend, though, I have the sense that much as been accomplished.

Friday evening was spent driving a group of boys to Boy Scout camp.  Wish it had been part of my plans; I really didn't mind, but I left my sunglasses in the other car...  My friend - one of the other moms - rode along with me, so the conversation was good. 

Saturday morning - top priority was some quiet time with the Lord.  It was badly needed and productive, I think.  I shuffled some dirt around in my garden; pulled out weeds (and was hit with the confession analogy of pulling the "weeds" out of the garden of our soul - by the roots of course!), planted a few new things.  Some garlic, a cayenne pepper plant, some onions, and some cantaloupe seeds. 

I went to Mass Saturday evening.  I like the 4:00 Mass.  It is the "old people" Mass, but I just like the "feel" of it.  The homilies sometimes go a little deeper.  It was Palm Sunday and the homily was about Obedience - the one word that sums up the whole week that is to come. 

I got most of the laundry done on Saturday.  Dear hubby and I went shopping at WalMart that evening.  It wasn't a long drawn out trip and since my hip hurt for some reason most of the day on Saturday, I was glad that it was short.

Sunday, hubby and I went to 8:30 Mass.  That's his favorite time to go, and when I can, I go with him.  He likes it because there aren't as many people and it is "faster".  By the time we got home, it was time to pick up my boys from their weekend of camping.  That took a while for them to unload the trailer, get the ice chests clean, etc. 

After lunch, I opened up the garage, aired up the tires, and started up the lawn mower.  MY lawn mower.  After a long winter's nap, it started right up!  I was impressed!  The first official grass-cutting of the  year.  It wasn't grass so much, as yellow weedy flowers.  I didn't finish the entire yard, but got a lot done.  A good start.  Planted a few more things; some blueberry bushes, onions, banana peppers, etc.  I came inside, ready to slip into the bathtub and have a nice leisurely soak only to find there was no hot water.  Finally a phone call to hubby revealed the problem - the pilot light had gone out.  I was able to relight it, and at long last soak away the grime and pollen.

Pollen...there is a coating of yellow dust EVERYWHERE. Allergies abound. The air had a sickly sweet smell to it yesterday. Hopefully that will soon be done.

While I was mowing, I thought about the difference between last Lent and this one.  Last year started off slow, it seemed, but finished so well.  This year, the opposite, so far.  I think, that last year I went in with no expectations.  I gave up what I gave up, but there was no thought about getting something in return.  This year, I went in with my plan, but also with an idea of what I wanted God to accomplish, instead of allowing Him to surprise me and work in His way.  Almost like giving God a "to-do" list.  Well, you can see how well that worked! 

Washed some more clothes.  Helped Kid #1 with homework.  Made my breakfast for tomorrow.  Ironed a couple of pairs of pants. 

Emailed my pastor about altar serving arrangements for the coming week - a very busy week as far as church services go.  I addressed him as "Good Monsignor:"  Had to smile when the reply came back, "Good Karen:"  Especially in light of the fact that if things go according to plan (and we know how often THAT happens) I'll be sitting face to face in the confessional with him tomorrow morning.  Irony at its best! 

And tomorrow begins a new week.  The holiest week of the year.  We have school, of course, but can look forward to a long weekend. We will have a Tenebrae Service on Wednesday, The Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday, The Celebration of the Lord's Passion on Friday, and the joyous Easter Vigil on Saturday.  I am looking forward to all of them.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Finally I made it to the little chapel.  A time to recharge.  I stayed for about an hour and a half; probably a record for me, but I stayed until I was ready to go.  No kids at home to worry about. 

There was time to pray.  I took my journal along and spent some time writing in it.  Things usually sort out when I can write. I also worked my way through an examination of conscience as I wrote, since I'd had on my mind's calendar the possiblity of confession today,  but no idea what I might need to confess.  The days have been so hectic that I hadn't had time to give it much thought, and there were no glaring issues that I've felt the need to address. 

It was just frustrating.  I was aggravated with the examination of conscience and its questions that didn't really seem to be "naming my pain".  I was irritated that answers weren't coming.  (It was kind of how Lent has been for me, in a ntushell.)  I had decided that I wouldn't go to confession today; it just didn't seem to be working out for me.

My last paragraph read something like:  Lord, I don't know what I am doing here.  I don't know the answers I am seeking.  I want to know what to fix and how to do it.... Show me.

Then for some reason, I turned to a page in the back of my journal - less likely that someone will read it back there, I guess,  And there in about two-thirds of a page and five minutes got to the heart of the matter.  I usually make lists before confession (even if I don't use it, at least I have that security), but this is a paragraph.  I could just rip it out and read it...  Lord, I'm sorry for the mess, I'm sorry for the doubts, I'm sorry for the sins.   He showed me, alright.  I guess to be more correct, I should replace "the" with "my", but it is what it is. 

I didn't make it to the confessional today, but, I'm aiming for Monday morning, bright and early (actually it won't be bright, it will still be dark, it's so early) before Mass.  Hopefully the line will be really short.  If you read this, prayers are always appreciated!

Friday, March 26, 2010

nothing according to plan

Nothing at all has gone as I had planned for the last few days.  Yesterday I was up at 5 and didn't fall into bed until after 11, and I don't think I ever stopped.  Mass, school, inservice, grocery shopping, nplanned (to me) crawfish boil/birthday party, church visit, packing for camping, trying to find altar servers for First Communion Mass on Saturday, sewing new patches onto uniforms.

Today, I looked forward all day to a visit to the little chapel tonight.  I need it so badly.  I feel like a spring that has been wound too tight.  I need that time to sit in God's presence, and just be.

I arrived at the gathering point for the Boy Scout campout.  Even though I'd tried to find out last Sunday if they would have enough drivers, no one could give me that answer until today.  So it turned out that I drove the 2-hour round trip to camp.  It wasn't a bad drive, but it was 8:30 pm before I arrived home to my waiting hubby, and once again, I missed the chance to go to the chapel.

Tomorrow, maybe?

kid stuff

There is a Perpetual Adoration chapel not too far from my home where I like spending time.  However, I have never taken my boys with me.  It is a very quiet place, and they are not.  However, my 8th grader was with me the other morning, since he was coming with me to my school to take part of the 8th grade test.  Sometimes in the morning, after dropping off the kids, I will jet to 7:30 Mass, but they moved too slow on this day.  So I went with the next best thing - the Adoration Chapel - and kid #1 came with me.  We stayed about 20 minutes.  He sat quietly, and seemed to be most impressed at how small it is.

The parish associated with the chapel is not one that we frequent, and he wanted to see the inside.  (How many 14 year olds want to see what the inside of a church looks like?)  I told him that there was a Penance Service scheduled there later in the week, and since he hadn't been to confession yet during Lent, that would be a good time for him to see it. We did not make it to the penance service, for reasons beyond our control (again), but we were in the area at about that time, and he asked if we could still go by. He mentioned that he had been annoying his classmates a lot lately and he wanted to say a Hail Mary for each one of them.  (?!?) 

Makes me a little nostalgic for the days when you could just pop into a church at any time....

Monday, March 22, 2010

41 more days

Today never stopped.

I went to Mass early this morning.  That was the best part of the day.  That quiet contemplation and words of wisdom.  The Eucharist.  That little bit of time when Jesus is *that* close to you.  The homily was about how in order for Jesus to be powerful in our lives, we must be powerless.  It was food for thought.  I've been feeling somewhat powerless lately.

From there, I returned home, got my kiddos out of bed and out the door.  I unloaded cars at their school for a few short minutes.  There was a squirrel  nestled in the tire that cushions a cement post near the entrance to the parking lot.  I don't think it was sleeping.  I meant to email someone about it before it starts smelling... Then I rolled on to my school.  I had a few minutes, so I picked up some of the trash that had accumulated in the front seat.  Then I prayed Morning Prayer.

Then the day began.  Our custodian came to visit, and we mourned the state of our country.  For a long time after the election, we hesitated to say very much to him about our president, since most of the black people we knew were on an Obama-high.  We didn't want to offend.  But gradually talk has turned to values, and we are all on the same page there - regardless of race.  Today he said he wants to register as an independent.  It is always such a pleasure to talk to him.  Sometimes we talk religion, sometimes politics, sometimes life.

I went to my computer to try to print an IEP only to discover that the computer guy who had come on Friday had messed up more than he fixed.  My printer no longer printed from my computer, and nothing I tried seemed to matter.

Sometime during that class, my 2:30 appointment called and said they did not have transportation.  I was able to arrange for our school resource officer (campus cop) to go to pick them up.  Never mind about teaching today, though we did get some work done in my first hour class.

My eighth graders came in next.  There are only 4 of them, and 2 of them are fairly savvy with computers, so they set about solving my computer issues.  I had gotten a new laser printer last week that I decided to install with my desktop computer (where the bulk of my printing goes on).  L handled that.  He is a master.  I decided to take the one which had been hooked to the desktop and hook it up to the laptop so I can print Promethean lessons.  Never understood the whole networking printer thing.  K handled that and was so pleased with herself. 

Lunch and duty followed, then my sixth graders came in.  By this point, I was desperate to get the IEP for my 2:30 meeting finished, but realized I also needed to find the one for my 1:30 meeting.  I looked in the folder where it should be and then started to panic when I couldn't find it.  I sifted through the papers on my desk.  Once, twice.  I looked in the other filing cabinet drawers. I printed a copy from the computer.  Looked again in the folder where it was supposed to be.  Then I stopped and had a word with St. Anthony.  One more time, I looked in the folder where it was supposed to be.  And realized that I wasn't looking for an IEP that I had done. So when I looked once more in the folder where it was supposed to be, there it was!  Thank you St. Anthony.  20 minutes or more wasted looking for something that was where it was supposed to be all along.  Imagine!

I didn't finish the IEP, but got enough done.  Meetings at 1:30 and 2:30.  Non-stop until after 4:00.

Then I had my own child to pick up from school.  Home.  To the pharmacy to pick up meds.  Workout.  Planted a few plants in the garden.  Loaded the dishwasher.  Enjoyed a PBJ sandwich.  Blogged while texting the mom of one of my students.

Now I am going to put on my PJs, crawl under my covers and work on my Bible Study homework.

I heard today that there are 41 more days of school!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

where values still count

A Boy Scout Court of Honor was held tonight.  Kid #1 received his Star Scout rank and his Shotgun Shooting merit badge.  Kid #2 received his First Class rank and Canoeing, Fishing, Wood Carving, Orienteering, and Archery merit badges.  Congratulations to both!

Values still matter in scouting.  They still promise to be reverent, brave, trustworthy, loyal, obedient, courteous, etc.  Physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.  Those old-fashioned things.  When you see Boy Scouts in a group, it gives one hope for the future like very little else these days does.

heaven 101

Back to the mission that SIL and I went to a few weeks ago.  I shared some thoughts  here.  Before we get too far removed, here are some more.  In no particular order...

Two "foundational graces" that we should ask God for (at the start of Mass, for instance) are the Grace of Openness and the Grace of Being in the Present Moment (not preoccupied with other concerns and issues).

Conversion is something that is ongoing in our lives.

A saint is someone who lets God love them as they are.  Saints know where the power comes from.  (It comes from God, and it comes from letting God see us and love us as we are.)

When we get to Heaven, there will not be a class to enroll in to teach us what we need to do in heaven.  We are enrolled in "Heaven 101" right now!

Our core identity is that we are a beloved son or daughter of God - before all else.

The Voice of Love is the only voice that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

The doorknob to the heart is on the inside.  God knocks, but only we can open the door.  But if we crack open the door just a little bit, the Holy Spirit sticks his foot inside...

The second night centered on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Some of his talk was practical advice:

He gave the example of what not to do:  

Bless me Father, it's been 30 years since my last confession.

("We might have been deep in prayer or taking a nap when you came in," Father says,  "but believe me, when we hear '30 years', you have our FULL attention."  The angels in heaven are on the edge of their seats getting the party preparations underway...)

Ummm... I think I took some pencils from work.  And I think we might have missed Mass once about 5 years ago when we went to Gulf Shores for the weekend.  I think.  

Well, that's about it..... 


Unfortunately, our society has lost it's sense of sin. Nothing is a sin any more. 

"NAME THE PAIN" he says.  Pain is NOT the enemy - even though our society teaches us that. It can be an ally. When you are going to confession - NAME THE PAIN.  Be specific about what "hurts" in your life.  You are speaking to the Divine Physician. Just like the doctor can't help you, if you don't tell him what's wrong; neither can the priest help you if you don't show him the wound.

This is what leads to conversion.  And (see above), conversion should be on-going in our lives.  God loves us too much to leave us where we are.,

He also included some meditations on courage, since confession/penance/reconciliation, by it's very nature requires some courage.

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point."  (C.S. Lewis)
  This means that every virtue requires courage when we are tested or tempted.

"Deliver me Lord, from the cowardice that does what is not demanded in order to escape the sacrifice that is!"  (Thomas Merton)     Meaning:  Taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation may well be the "sacrifice that is demanded" from you this Lent.  Once you make up your mind to go, there will be many other things placed in your way by the evil one.  Cleaning your garage would be the sacrifice that is not demanded.  (Can't go to confession....gotta clean the garage...)

"...many remain at the foot of the mount who could ascend to the top...I repeat and ask that you always have courageous thoughts.  As a result of them the Lord will give you grace for courageous deeds."  (St. Theresa of Avila)    Meaning:  It is a tough road to the top of the mountain to the foot of the cross.  Going around the mountain are two interstate highways....much easier to take them than to struggle up the narrow, steep hill.)

May something here be useful to you!

nancy and the saint

Friday was the Solemnity of Joseph, the husband of Mary.  So important of a day is this, that even though it was a Friday during Lent, eating meat was OK.  (We didn't, but we could have.)

I came home and on one of the blogs that I follow saw this Youtube video posted: 

And I thought it was kind of ironic that someone would call upon the help of a Saint to pass this horrid piece of legislation that provides for the killing of unborn children and more. Historically (like in the Bible) bad things have happened to societies which kill their children. It really can't be good news for us. But, you know, we have "separation of church and state" so maybe that makes us immune as a nation for facing the consequences of our actions. Kind of like a small child who covers his eyes when playing hide-and-seek and thinks he is invisible to everyone, since he can't see anyone.  Maybe God can't touch us, because He comes under "church" and this other stuff comes under "state".  Sorry, God, it's separated.  (sarcasm here)

Then I read further. Poor Nancy. She tries to be "Catholic", but once again she has it wrong. Friday was not the "Feast of St. Joseph the Worker" as she claims. That minor, optional feast is on May 1. And while the Solemnity of St. Joseph that was celebrated on March 19, IS important to those with Italian heritage, the Feast of St. Joseph the worker is of no particular importance to them.

It just irritates me that she trots out her Catholic identity when it's convenient, and then puts it way back in the closet the rest of the time.  To me, your faith should influence everything else about your life, including your politics. It shouldn't be your politics influencing your faith.  I look at her, and I see evil.  But I should pray for her; we all should.  And today with the story of the woman caught in adultery as the Gospel in Mass, maybe I shouldn't cast stones.  Maybe it's a good thing that God (and not some of us) will judge her when she stands before Him.

God help our country.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

happy equinox

First day of spring today!  It was a nice, beautiful spring day.  Temps are supposed to drop into the mid 30's tonight, however.  Further proof of global warming...

I was up bright and early this morning because one of my offspring had earned us both a ticket to Saturday detention.  Detention was supposed to be 4 hours, but I guess the administrator in charge had better things to do with her day.  After picking up several bags of pine cones (I kicked them together into piles; he picked them up),. and doing a little dusting, we were done in a little over two.  I didn't complain.

Because 60 miles away, my Godchild was celebrating his 2nd birthday, and with this pleasant turn of events, we would be able to make it in time for the party.  Fortunately, I'd bought a gift Friday night, just in case...

Here is a picture of the little one checking out the teenage cousin's ipod touch.

It has been a long day for me.  My lower back is giving me trouble (an ongoing thing) and it has been particularly stiff this week.  I haven't slept well for several nights, but I'm hoping that tonight is different!  Night-y night.

Friday, March 19, 2010

healthcare prayer

A prayer in advance of the vote on obama-care from my friend Kimberly:

Father, In Jesus' Most Holy and Precious Name, we humbly ask that You step in and intervene at this most critical juncture in our nation's history. Father, it was YOU who gave our Founding Fathers the wisdom and guidance to assert that our nation would be one nation under GOD, with liberty and justice for all. Our nation's founding documents state that it is from YOU that we receive the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - NOT our federal government.

Father, please stop this healthcare legislation dead in its tracks. Please frustrate the plotting of the shrewd who seek to alter our nation into a socialist democracy so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise or attain success. (Job 5:12-13). Expose to the light of day the plans of the crafty. Allow confusion and chaos to reign in their meetings this weekend and into next week so that no path to reconciliation may be achieved. Please allow division and rivalry to thwart the plans of those who seek to override the will of the citizens of the United States so that this entire endeavor fails in utter futility. Please awaken our citizenry to what is at stake.

Father, we also humbly ask that you will bring good out of this terrible situation. Please graciously use this whole experience to draw people to Yourself. In Jesus' name we pray for revival to spread across our land and to heal our nation so that we once again seek our liberty from You and not from a government of men.

Thank you for graciously hearing our prayers on behalf of our nation and our fellow citizens.

In Jesus' Most Holy Name We Pray. Amen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

golden calves

The first reading at Mass today was from Exodus.  It was the story of the golden calf and Moses' intercession for his people after that when God was ready to wash His hands of the whole sorry bunch.  The golden calf incident was at the very beginning of the scripture, and if you were having and ADD moment, you could miss it all together.  It only took up a sentence or so.  But the major image from the homily was based on that.  We all have our own "ugly little golden calves" that we need to ask God to take from us.  When we come forward to receive Holy Communion, we bring those ugly little golden calves with us, God takes them from us, and gives us the gift of Himself instead.  Not really a fair trade, but a gift of amazing love.


My parish has a small choir, but they are awesome.  Tonight they performed "Touched by the Christ," a musical production in which those who came into contact with Jesus during his final days reflect on their experiences.  Each presents a monologue which is followed by a related musical selection.

I went last year and thought that it was just awesome.  Truly, I was touched.  This year, I knew what to expect, and so didn't find it as touching, but still beautiful.  I brought my kids with me this year, thinking they would enjoy it.  One said he thought it was pretty good; the other, not so much.  There were monologues by Mary, the sister of Martha, an officer to Caiaphas, Judas, Peter, Jesus, Pilate, Jesus' Mother, Mary Magdalene, and Thomas.  Draw close to the Christ of the Cross, and He will draw close to you.     

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

let the water rise

It's been a long week.  And it's only Tuesday.  Seems like it should be at least Thursday.  The time change didn't help any.  While I love having the extra daylight in the evening, I really miss my extra hour of sleep.  I felt like I needed a nap yesterday from the time I woke up.

Today wasn't so bad, school-wise.  As a reward, students who hadn't received an office referral during the previous six weeks were shown a video during one class period.  As luck would have it, each grade level had it during MY class.  What are the odds?  None of my 7th graders were eligible to go, but I only had 2 eighth graders and 3 sixth graders in my class.  I actually got papers graded and grades entered.  Good thing because progress reports are due tomorrow.

Didn't make it to Mass this morning.  My kidlets just moved too slow.  Won't make it tomorrow because I have a before-school meeting.  Things are better when I am able to go to Mass.  One of my offspring who has had week after week, year after year of straight A's in conduct has found his rebel side.  It has been years since he had anything lower than a C in conduct.  But today, he made it all the way down to an F.  Because he was misbehaving in the hall and didn't have his shirt tucked.  So now WE have to attend Saturday detention.  Which will prevent us from attending my godchild's second birthday party.  Sometimes I really think that the teachers at his school need to come spend a day in my shoes and get a grip.  But then maybe that is the reason he does not attend my school.  His brother, who has rarely had an A in conduct - ever - is just in awe that brother got Saturday detention before him.

As I said....a long day.

Here is a song that I like.  Kind of expresses what I am feeling right now.  I know there is a reason I am where I am.  I know there is something I am supposed to learn.  Kind of hope it is a quick lesson, but on some things, I'm not a quick learner.  And sometimes, it just takes as long as it takes.  As I was told once, "This is how Jesus has chosen for you to share in the Paschal mystery right now."  "But God always gives you what you need..."  And He does.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

spinning wheels revisited

The feeling of not going anywhere - of not seeing the things that *I* wanted to see happen in my life happen.  But all of this is up to God, and He will do what He wills.  My part in the whole thing is to be faithful to those things that I had set about to do and to trust that God knows what He is doing and will bring out of my efforts what He sees to be best for me.  And He will do this because He writes straight with crooked lines.  (And to quote Mother Teresa, "I am just a little pencil in His hand.")

teen conversation

I'm sitting here with my laptop blogging, when one of my teens asks me, "Is 12 a sacred number?" 

"Maybe so," I reply.  "There were 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles." 

"And 12 stars on the Miraculous Medal," he says. 

Where does he get this from?

"Seven is the number of completion," I tell him, remembering back to my Bible study on Revelations. 

"Oh like 7 days of the week?" he asks.

"Yeah, and there are 7 sacraments, 7 capital sins, etc," I say.

"And there are 7 Archangels, Mom," he says.  "Gabriel, Michael, Rafael.... Gabriel is for Sunday, [one of the others] is for Monday and the other is for Tuesday."  (only he KNEW which angel went with which day). 

How does he know this??  He looked it up on Wikipedia??? 

spinning wheels

Lately, I have the feeling of just spinning my wheels. 

Lent started off awesomely, but now I have the feeling of not really going anywhere.  Yes, I am being mostly faithful to most of the things that I started with for Lent, but I don't see much changing.  With this, though, I am mindful of advice I got in confession a year or so ago.  "Be careful not to judge what God is doing on the inside by what you see on the outside."  And I know that feelings are not very reliable indicators of truth.  Still, it is somewhat depressing not to see the things hoped for or the things that happened in years past.

School is about the same.  I feel like I am getting no where with my lessons.  It is like a big tug of war.  The kids on one side of the rope and me on the other.  They are all pulling against me and they are winning.  I have the feeling that I could just cut and paste my lesson plans from last week into this week.  Well, maybe I could leave off Monday....  I remarked to dear hubby this week that we are educating the most ignorant people I have ever seen.   He was talking about what "we" teach today in the schools.  I told him it doesn't matter what we teach, they're not learning it anyway.  There is ZERO desire to learn.  They sit zombie-like daring me to educate them.  The almighty LEAP tests?  They're resigned to failing them before they even open the book.

Even at home.  Getting the kids to confession has been on the agenda for the last three Satudays.  I went a couple of weeks ago, and they elected to postpone it, which was fine with me.  Last Saturday was crazy and we just didn't make it in the 30 minute alloted time frame.  So this week, we made it with about 10 minutes to spare.  One kid went in almost immediately.  The other sat down in the pew behind me and taps me on the shoulder, saying, "Mom, give me some sins."  Ummmm.....guess we didn't do much preparation.  I suggested a few and then he wants me to write them down for him.  So I'm fishing a scrap of paper and a pen out of my purse.  By this time the other kid has returned to the pew, sin-free and ready to start collecting some for next time, pushing on his brother and just acting silly.  Someone is asking me if there were two Simons and why Thomas (on the stained glass) is holding an arrow.  With the gap, another man gets up and enters the confessional.  By the time he finishes, there are about 2 minutes left according to my watch.  Kiddo hesitates, and he who hesitates is lost.  As he walks towards the confessional, the priest exits.  Oh well.  Next week there is a birthday party  on Satuday, and they are camping the following Saturday.  I suppose he can go with dear hubby to one of the reconciliation services held here and there in the next couple of weeks.

Lord, is there a purpose in being stuck?  Help me to see it.  Or help me to move.

could it be spring?

The weather has been nice as of late.  So with nothing too exciting to do for the weekend, I thought it might be a good weekend to be outside and working in my garden.  

But dear husband had other plans.  My phone rang about 7:30 this morning - he was working and his mind must have been going.   The taxes.  He had written down all of the expenses associated with his job and wanted me to add them and "get everything else we need".  My brain wasn't really ready to work that fast that early in the morning.  

But once I got going, I figured it would be better to get the tax stuff done.  Dear hubby tends to make a bigger deal out of that then he needs to.  (Clear off the table, find a place for the kids to go and barricade yourself inside the house for the weekend.)  When in reality it can be knocked out in a couple of hours.  But not wanting to waste a good spring day, I had the bright idea to take the stuff I needed outside - up into the "treehouse" to be specific. 

It was a beautiful day, and mostly peaceful except for the crow squawking,. but after about a half hour, I had to call it quits. The wind was blowing almost constantly, and it was just a little too chilly to be 10 feet off the ground with the wind blowing. 

But I did snap a few pictures.  The sycamore trees in the "way back" are still without leaves, and I like the contrast of the white against the blue sky.  In a few more weeks they will have leaves. 

And then there are the oaks.  All that yellow is not leaves.  It is pollen.  In a few weeks, everything will be covered with a nice dusting of  yellow yuk!  But there is no mistaking that spring is closing in fast!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

dental adventures

Sometimes, with the way I have to "pull teeth" to get my students to work, I think I should have been a dentist. 

Yesterday, while eating breakfast, I broke a tooth.  It's happened more times than I want to count, and it's likely to happen again.  For some reason, I have crappy teeth.  I've learned that once a tooth breaks, there is no sense in waiting to do something about it.  There is usually no pain at the time it breaks, but gradually, the filling or whatever wears away, the root becomes exposed, and then you're looking at a root canal. 

So, I was able to get an appointment for today.  I found a sub and left school about 11:30.  My husband was of the mind that I should "just pull it", but I'm kind of attached to my teeth, and when I mentioned that option to the dentist and the hygienist, they looked at me like I had lost my mind. 

So I settled in for a nice afternoon in the dentist.  Early on, I was relocated from a room that is about the average size of a cell on death row to a more spacious cubicle with a window and a wonderful view of the parking lot.  The hygienist must have had a rough week - she was telling me about all the people that had died.  I got a little confused trying to keep them all straight.  There was also an intern working with her.  She told me it was her third day on the job.  She was very sweet and thanked me for being "cooperative". 

Anyway, about 3 hours and $900 later, I left with a temporary crown - a pretty good job (so far) as far as temporaries go.  Yes, I have dental insurance.... 

Maybe I should have been a dentist....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

horizontal or vertical

One thing that caught my attention tonight that I could relate to on a personal level was the observation that we can't be one way with the people around us and another way with God.  The way in which we conduct our "horizontal" relationships with the people who make up the fabric of our lives is also the way in which we live our "vertical" relationship with God.

I could relate to this, because in the not-too-distant past, I realized that the same attitudes I often had in prayer were also the same attitudes that my family was subjected to (for lack of a better word).  The lack of time, lack of enthusiasm, just going through the motions was present in both places.  So that was kind of a personal "lightbulb moment" for me. 

the hole in the sidewalk

Can you stand more "religious" stuff?  Sorry, it's Lent.  That's where I'm at. 

Sister-in-law and I have spent the last two evenings at a Lenten mission at a parish not too far away given by a local priest.  I walked away last night thinking I had heard most of what he had to say before.  (Last spring I attended a day of recollection that he gave, and sometimes I go to daily Mass at his parish, so he wasn't an unfamiliar face.)  Tonight, he reviewed, and I realized how much he had covered last night, and took notes tonight. There are probably easily several posts in the things he shared tonight. 

God loves us as we are, where we are.  But He loves us too much to leave us there. 

So tonight was about change.  About confession and conversion.  Because the "Catholic flaw" is celebrating the sacraments over and over again without conversion.  That ho-hum attitude.

One avenue to change and conversion involves the "AAA plan".....Awareness, Acknowledgment, and Acceptance. 

To illustrate this, he used "An Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters" by Porsche Nelson.  It is short, and worth sharing here.

Chapter 1:  I walk down the street and there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes me forever to find my way out.

Chapter 2:  I walk down the same street and there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe that I’m in the same place, but it isn’t my fault. It takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3:  I walk down the same street there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see that it is there. I still fall in.  It’s a habit.  My eyes are open. I know it’s my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4:  I walk down the same street there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter 5:  I walk down another street.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

blessed are the helpful

Friday, my husband remembered that he was out of one of his blood pressure meds.  He had taken the bottle to the pharmacy earlier in the week (and left it), but is was not time for it to be refilled.  So, Friday evening I called to see about it.  Clearly, whoever answered the phone had had a long day or a long week.  Dear hubby does not remember the names of his meds.  He goes by things like "big white pill", "reddish pill", "the one I take twice a day".  Drives me crazy, but I can no longer remember all of his, what they are for, their strengths,  etc.  There is only so much space in my memory.

Anyway, I explained the situation to the young lady who answered the phone.  Dear hubby is telling me in the background, "Tell her it's a little white pill."   Wrong thing to say to someone who works in a pharmacy on a Friday evening.  "Well ma'am, we have thousands of white pills."  Anyway, we ended up with some medication, to get him through the weekend until the doctor could reauthorize the script, but it was the wrong one.  (Blue capsules).

He went out of town yesterday, so there was no need to run there yesterday.  I thought maybe I'd have better luck if I stopped by this morning after Mass, and I was right.  There was a nice young man working behind the counter.  I told him I needed his help and explained the situation.  He asked for dear hubby's date of birth and name, pulled up his information on the computer, and within about 90 seconds, we had the name of the medication.  He told me it had 2 refills left and offered to get one ready.  He told me to bring dear hubby's drivers's license next time and they would be able to print out a list of all of his meds, in case we forget a name again. 

Thank you, Lord, for helpful people.

zero tolerance

Mass today was awesome.  It's always awesome, or maybe I just have an awesome parish.  I don't know.

Father highlighted the following texts from the readings and went from there:  Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them into a good and spacious land... (Exodus 3)  Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.  (Psalm 103)  Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. (1Corinthians 10:12) But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did. (Luke 13)

I'm paraphrasing.  Jesus was sent to set us free.  God DOES want us free - from our addictions, our attitudes, our bad habits, our selfishness.  He sends us His strength and His mercy, he offers us freedom, BUT we have to claim it for ourselves.  The Lord IS merciful, gracious, kind, and slow to anger.  He wants nothing more than for us to be with Him.  But at some point, the mercy and kindness comes to an end, and we will be judged on the fruit our lives produced.  God does not tolerate sin.

I think there is a tendency for modern people to think of God as a big ol' teddy bear in the sky saying, "Sure, go ahead, do whatever you feel like.  We'll talk when you get up here and we'll figure things out then."  It came as a rude awakening for me several years ago when I realized that I when I got to the Pearly Gates that I would not be entitled to an attorney and one would not be appointed for me if I couldn't afford one.  Because after all, I could justify just about every wrong thing I'd ever done - from the most serious all the way down to the most trivial.  No,  I was going to be standing there all by myself and I wouldn't need to say a word because God already knew it all.  All my excuses... they wouldn't be good for anything.  Can you say, "Wake up call?"

Anyway, back to Mass....  If we think we don't need God...if we think we're "standing secure" as St. Paul says, maybe we better think again.

The Gospel today talks about people being killed with a tower fell on them.  It was only 18 people...must not have been a very big tower.  But it brought back memories for me of the day that The Towers fell.  And that day was huge for me.  I knew instinctively that those people were no more guilty than me, but I had been in those Towers that day, it would not have been good. 

 Father also asked rhetorically what we are doing for Lent and why.  He explained that Lent is about doing religious things.  Anyone can do "religious things" anytime, anywhere.  It is a time for doing "religious things" FOR A PURPOSE.  So that God can effect a behavior change in us, so that we can become closer to Him.  To just do religious things with no purpose is voodoo, superstition, or worse, hypocrisy.  Quoting there.  (That's what he said!)  So that makes me look at some of my lenten "stuff".  I can see where some of it fits the bill - it is about changing and growing and letting Him work.  Other stuff... I'm.not so sure.

After the homily was the Scrutinies for the three Elect in our parish  who will be joining the Church at Easter.  That was interesting; I'd never seen/experienced it before.  The Elect and their sponsors were called forward.  Father explained that this is a time when they scrutinize their lives to see what is in need of change.  There was a brief time of silent prayer, and then a blessing.  Then he placed his hands on each of their heads (praying silently, I suppose).

The music was amazing.  This is the Mass that the choir sings at.  The song at the Offertory was the spiritual Let My People Go  Beautifully, beautifully sung of course. 

And that is that.  I know there has been much spiritual "stuff" on this blog lately, but that's what's on my mind.  Apologies if it's boring.  Stick around.  Sooner or later, there will be work-related vents, things with the kids, or who knows what.

Friday, March 5, 2010

but the greatest of these is love

I remember being at Mass several months ago (or maybe a year or more) and hearing the scripture from 1Cor13, and thinking that I had screwed up at most of the items on the list.  I mean, I used to like that passage - it sounded so nice - all about love.  But then I got married...  Love is patient (x that off the list).  Love is kind (ummm.... well), etc.  I could just copy chapter 13, take it to confession and say, "Look, Father... everything in here, I have messed up at one time or another."  And so that has stayed in the back of my mind for a while.

Then earlier this year, I heard the good people on KLOVE talking about something called "The Love Dare".  It is a 40 day devotional that guides you to an understanding of what true love is. It's a choice.  I knew with the 40 days, it had Lent's name all over it.  I went to the local Catholic bookstore early in Lent and got the last copy on the shelf.  And so I am working through that.  So far, I highly recommend it.  It might very well be an answer to the prayer, "Help me to love better."  Because if I do not have love, I gain nothing. (1Cor13:3)  But it didn't take me long to figure out that I had a long way to go, and in some of those areas, my dear hubby is actually *gasp* doing a better job than me!  

Coincidentally enough, following up an awesome Bible Study lesson on unforgiveness (Matt 18) two weeks ago,  was one on marriage (Matt 19).  The presentation was pretty good, but I think what touched me more than the DVD presentation was the homework.  Part of what we had to do was to read what the Catholic Catechism has to say about marriage.  I had never read that before, but I thought it was beautiful.  Paragraphs 1601-1617 and 1642.  You can read that here, should the spirit move you.  It helps to explain the source of the conflict (thanks, Adam and Eve) and the plans God really has for marriage. 

We are all very much works in progress, but hopefully by the end of Lent, I will be more than the clanging cymbal that St. Paul speaks of.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


From this morning's homily at Mass.  (and don't ask me how it ties in with the readings exactly, though I may take a stab at that later).

In the Italian Mediterranean there is a species of jellyfish that consumes a certain kind of snail.  However, the jellyfish's digestive system can not digest the snail's shell.  So..... when the jellyfish consumes the snail, the snail attaches to the inner lining of the jellyfish.  (Do jellyfish have stomachs?)  As the snail grows, it consumes the jellyfish.  By the time it is fully grown, the jellyfish has been completely consumed.  How's that for payback?  The consumed becomes the consumer and the consumer becomes the consumed.

So switching gears...we consume the Eucharist at Mass - the Real Presence of Jesus.  Does He attach Himself to our stomach lining?  No, but He does attach Himself to our hearts, our souls, our being, if we are open to Him.  We can be consumed with love for Him because of his Love for us.  The consumer becomes consumed. 

And the tie-in is this, I think.  This was the story of the rich man in Luke, who totally ignored the poor, sore-covered Lazarus who was at his door.  The rich man ended up in torment in the netherworld, while Lazarus went off to better things.  The rich man was consumed with things of this world.

What are we consumed by?  What are we dining on?

Monday, March 1, 2010

one paradox

A few entries back, I mentioned something about paradoxes.  The more I learn, the more I see the paradoxes in Scripture.  The last shall be first.  The lowly will be exalted.  Finding true freedom when you submit to the will of God.  Finding strength in weakness.  Things like that.  And surely there are dozens more.

One such paradox has been running around in my head since this weekend, and it seems the only way that I will get it out of my head is to write it down.  Kind of a mental download, I guess. 

The sacrament of reconciliation.  By its very nature, there is some degree of humility involved.  And humility is not a bad thing.  What I find that happens, though, and I don't quite understand how or why, is that from the humility required for the sacrament arises a certain amount of dignity.  The dignity that allows one to walk through life with the knowledge that they are a beloved daughter or son of God. 

I have known this for a while.  During the spring of the year, I often find myself overwhelmed with paperwork, very stressed, and not very nice to be around.  I remember saying to myself, and anyone who didn't have the good sense to run the other direction, that I didn't like the person I became at that time of the year.  And then it dawned on me - if you don't like the person you have become, there is a place to go; a place to do something about it; a way to get through a very trying time with some dignity intact.   And so one morning, I went to confession, and explained about the paperwork and the resulting stress and ugliness, and expressed my sorrow for my part in it.  And there I received encouragement, advice, forgiveness, and absolution.  It was great!  Nearly a year later, I still remember the advice.

I had a similar experience this weekend.  I went in with things that I have seen, but didn't really like about  myself.  I explained (without excuses).  I let it go and passed it along to God to handle.  Maybe it is about facing our issues honestly and seeing that God is not scared away by our weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings.  He embraces us and welcomes us back.  Now I finally feel like I can move forward with God walking along side of me.  Awesome, awesome.

From humility comes dignity?