My friend says she makes Thanksgiving resolutions, since she doesn't keep the New Year's variety. What she probably doesn't realize, (and what I didn't think of while we were talking), is that a New Year starts this evening - a new liturgical year in the Catholic Church.
This year starts with us waiting in "patient hope and joyful anticipation" for the coming of Jesus - God is with us - Emmanuel. Patient hope and joyful anticipation, my pastor says, like the people camped outside of Best Buy on Thursday evening - waiting for the doors to open on Friday!
Jesus is already with us. We know that. He is with us in His Word, in the sacraments of the Church - especially the Eucharist. He is with us in the people around us, with us in prayer. So it's not as if we are waiting for him to be "more" with us. We already have it all, so to speak.
Perhaps, it is about us being more open to His presence with us. Maybe that is why the purple vestments have reappeared again, after endless days of them during Lent. While the rest of the world is busy seeing how many Christmas trees can be put up and how many presents can be waiting under the tree on Christmas morning, we are called to slow down and reflect, to look within - and see how we might be more open to His presence in our lives.
I think the final question of the homily was, "How bad do you really want to be with Jesus?" And my immediate mental answer was, "more than anything." But I didn't really have to reflect that long to see that my answer and the reality in my life are two different things. I want to be with Jesus....as long as I don't have to take too much time away from the things I want to do to pray. I want to be with Jesus.... as long as He doesn't ask anything too hard. I want to be with Jesus...as long as He fits into my schedule. I want to be with Jesus as long as I don't have to .....
So it seems like it would be a great time to start over with some Thanksgiving/Advent resolutions. The Advent wreath (which Father blessed and lit tonight) works perfectly into the scheme of things. A little more light each week.
Come, Lord Jesus, bring light into my life to illuminate the dark corners. Let me be more open to Your presence in my life.
I ran across this picture yesterday. It dates back to the time that my little superheroes often ended up in my bed. Dear hubby worked nights, and my guiding principal regarding sleeping arrangements at the time was "however the most people can get the most sleep". My mother warned that I'd never get them out of my bed. But they are now 13 and 15, and it has been YEARS since they've even asked about sleeping in my bed.
Wednesday morning I didn't make it to Mass. It hardly ever happens that I miss a daily Mass because I slept in, but I did. I opened my eyes at 6:40, and thought, "I'll never make 7:00 Mass." I guess I was still half- asleep because Mass wasn't until 7:30. Oh well. I went that evening to the Adoration Chapel. It was an ADD conversation that I had with God. It just kind of went this way and that way. But it was good.
Not too long ago in confession, my penance was to ask God to place His throne in my heart - or something along those lines. It went along with the readings for the day, and I thought it was pretty simple. Sounded that way on the surface. I had a mental image of a nice, shiny, gold chair. That kind of throne would fit just perfectly in my heart. But as I sat there the other night, I realized that Jesus' throne wasn't a nice, shiny, gold chair, but a rough, wooden cross. So much for easy. Guess that will be something to pray about further...
I kind of appreciate that nearly a month after confession, my penance has become a part of me; food for reflection.
What kind of penances do you get? It's been a while since I've had the 3 Hail Mary's or 1 Our Father variety. Recent ones still floating around in my memory...
give something up for a day; offer it .... (in thanksgiving for something specific or for someone else)
go and bask in the silence; listen to Jesus speak to you
take a minute and pray for/thank God for (usually something/someone making me crazy)
ask God to show you the good He wants you to become
read the Gospel and reflect upon who the Lazarus' are in your life
We celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King last weekend. May Christ's throne always rule in our hearts!
It's fall here. You can kind of tell by the leaves. Actually, I saw the leaves in the second picture yesterday - in the treeline around the property, and grabbed my camera. We don't really get the beautiful changing leaves thing here. Never mind that it's been in the 80's the past few weeks. A cold front is coming through tonight, and tomorrow night's football game will be in the 40's. Brrrr...and I don't think long johns will fit under my jeans...
We started off this morning with Mass. I knew that I was going - alone if needed. But dear hubby and older child ended up coming along, too. There was a nice crowd there. It was short - about 35 minutes, but it never seems rushed. Everything we have or are comes from God. We don't deserve any of it. It has taken me a while to wrap my mind around that. We were raised to work for what we wanted, and to appreciate things as the fruits of OUR labor, not God's generosity.
At Mass we witness the greatest miracle in the world - Jesus coming to us in the Eucharist (which not coincidentally means "Thanksgiving"). Do we remember to express our gratitude for that tremendous act of love?
We celebrated with hubby's family this year. His older son drove in from Texas last night with his wife and six kiddos! We ate with SIL and her crew. We were 20+ for dinner. Afterwards was the Saints game. We thought all was lost, because they really didn't play well the second half, but they managed to pull out a victory at the last minute!
We have so many blessings to be thankful for. Thank you, Lord.
That was our theme for the day - Eat, Pray, Love - New Orleans style.
Sister-in-law asked me to tag along on a trip to the Crescent City with her BFF and some of her friends to celebrate BFF's birthday. BFF is currently having some serious health issues and today was a respite from that.
We prayed for healing and whatever other intentions we might have had. Father Seelos is a German-born Redemptorist priest who volunteered to serve in New Orleans during a yellow fever epidemic. He contracted and died from the disease about a year after he arrived there. He had predicted as much before he arrived. He was a cheerful, holy, busy priest.
The Shrine was beautiful, as was the nearby Church of Mary's Assumption. Stunningly beautiful. I took a gazillion pictures, but the pictures don't really do it justice. Poor lighting didn't help. Trust me, it was gorgeous.
Above is the altar. Below, the wall behind the altar. I don't think I would be able to focus on Mass there. I would be like a little kid - just looking at everything....
From SIL's iPhone
One of the statues that had been ordered before Father Seelos arrived as pastor, was this one of Our Lady of Sorrows. Sister-in-law and I just looked at each other. We have been praying the Seven Sorrows Rosary for several months, and her BFF has a Our Lady of Sorrows medal. Fr. Seelos had quite a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows. Our guide told us that this statue cries.
Marian images abounded - in the museum/shrine, in the courtyard, and in the church. I guess that is fitting since the parish is Mary's Assumption...
I still have not figured out how to arrange the pictures exactly how I would like them. You know, it would be OK to have two side by side, but I just don't seem to have that talent! Life goes on...
Me...courtesy of SIL's iPhone
Truly, I did narrow down my pictures. I left out the ones of the organ, the old confessionals, the ceiling, the ones with bad reflections, the ones that made me look like I weigh even more than I do...
Come, have a seat. Let's talk!
Wisdom from the gift shop. I need it in large print, please!
Oh - and we did eat. We were all starving, and ended up here.
I was driving, so it was more like Diet-Cokeville for me.
All in all, a great day!
EDITING TO ADD: I picked up a church bulletin while I was visiting the church. Yes, it is true...I am a church bulletin-aholic. I can not pass by a church bulletin without picking it up. And what's even scarier - I actually read them. I might miss something important. It's a sickness...
But anyway... this bulletin had some words from the pastor. At the end was this little note: "A write-up about St. Mary's (doesn't credit the source): 'Aside from its significance in German cultural development and in the religious history of New Orleans, St. Mary's is a priceless and unique example of the American expression of German baroque art and architecture. The brickwork of its exterior, its unique foundations, and the plaster work, stained glass and wood carvings of its interior, are unsurpassed in New Orleans and perhaps in the nation'....Another quote states: 'the ceiling decoration is perhaps the finest expression of nineteenth century German baroque art in America.'" (and y'all thought I was a little 'off' talking about pictures of the ceiling...)
Really... could you imagine a life any better than the one this cat has? Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. In the comfy chair. Eat. Scratch on the door in the middle of the night. A nice loud meow at any hour when your needs aren't being met to your standards. Even my children don't scratch on my door in the middle of the night... Haven't in years...
About a year ago, we had dinner with our former pastor. Kids and I went to Mass at his "new" parish and then took him to eat pizza. (Dear husband has declined to participate. ) The conversations at these meals are always pretty wide-ranging, especially when the kids get in the act. At some point, slingshots came up. I had long since forgotten that part of the evening, but younger son had it tucked away in his memory bank. (Side note: It is truly amazing what trivial things they remember - like which Happy Meal toy they got when we stopped after having pictures taken at XYZ place when they were pre-schoolers.) Friday, something possessed him to climb up on the treehouse platform with the pruning shears (they're still up there) and clip out a nice branch with a Y shape "just like Fr. P said." And so here is the result. It is at winter camp with said son this week. Allegedly for skipping rocks on the lake....
Months ago, my pastor invited me to be a Eucharistic Minister at our parish. Said that he and Jesus would like to have me. My first reaction was not enthusiastic acceptance (more like: "anything but that"), but it's pretty hard to tell Jesus "no", so I accepted the invitation. Took a little while to get my name on the schedule, and today was my first opportunity to serve. Just a little nervous, I said a quick prayer to the Blessed Mother - Mary, this is YOUR son we're dealing with here. Please let everything go well. And it did! It just really seemed to be a blur, during the time of the Mass that is most quiet and reflective.
Today was the Solemnity of Christ the King. The last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. Advent begins next Sunday! Love it!
I'm looking at a week of no school! It will fly by. Undoubtedly there will be some things to blog!
It's an ongoing theme in my life - prayer or lack thereof. The search for the right combination of spontaneous and structured, personal and communal, from the heart and from the book, out of a sense of relationship or obligation. More than once it's come up in confession, and advice has been varied.
A couple of months ago, I just threw up my hands. Prayer? The formal, structured approach wasn't really working out for me, but I hadn't given up altogether. The advice from my confessor? "Just keep listening." So I have tried to do that. Gradually (as he predicted might happen), I feel the need to return to something more structured - the morning and evening prayers that are part of the Liturgy of the Hours. I feel the distance in my friendship with Jesus. And while sometimes the structured prayer of the Hours sometimes feels like something to just get through, it is still a connection, a way to touch base with the God of the Universe. Along with the more structured prayer, it means a return to a bit more discipline in my prayer life instead of "whatever". With the end of the liturgical year this weekend, and the start of a new one, it might be a good time for that!
Plan B seems to be another recent theme. About a month ago, I saw an announcement in a church bulletin about an Advent Day of Recollection for Women. I called for more info, got the applications in the mail, passed them along to sister-in-law and friends, got a sub for the day, and returned the applications with the required fee a couple of weeks before the deadline. But I got a letter in the mail the other day saying that they were full, and my name would be placed on the waiting list. :-( I have a sub for the day. What will my Plan B be if I don't make it off the waiting list?
Sickness. I want "the sickness" to stay away. My faithful assistant came to school sick last Friday. She didn't improve as the day went on. She stayed home on Monday. My talkative effervescent red-headed co-worker was also out sick on Monday. It was VERY quiet in my room yesterday for lunch, as there were no subs. My pastor had a sub for the weekend, and was still under the weather on Monday. He said Mass, but he sat down to deliver the homily. Then he went, in the rain, in the evening to hear confessions of the junior high and high school CCD kids. I think my high schooler was holding out hope that he might not make it.
Adoration. After I dropped older child off at CCD, I went to the Adoration Chapel. It is so wonderfully quiet there. At one point, there was a loud clap of thunder. The other two occupants of the chapel and I just looked at one another. Was God trying to tell us something?
Journal writing. It's been seriously lacking lately. Seems like the only times I write lately are when I'm at adoration or when I'm getting ready to go to confession. Perhaps this blog qualifies as journal wriitng?
Procrastination. If I am going to do what I said back in the second paragraph and be more structured in my prayer time, I must end this now. There are prayers to be prayed....
I went shopping at the WalMart in the next small town today, and ran into two people from my church there. Apparently, I'm not the only one who by-passes the closest store (aka "Ghetto WalMart") and drives the extra distance for a more pleasant shopping experience. One of the people told me that they had heard that our pastor was still sick, and had gotten a replacement for this weekend.
My boys are serving at Sunday morning Mass, and I usually enjoy the Saturday evening Mass, but there is an element of unknown when there is a replacement. For a long time, I've been wanting to go to a weekend Mass of the little parish that I go to some weekdays. The one where the people make my heart smile. So I seized the opportunity. Sent my SIL who also loves that parish a text, and she was willing to go, too!
As we approached the public school gym where Mass was being held, we could smell bar-b-q. This parish has a wonderful pastor. He spoke about how their church building caught fire nearly 7 months ago, but how their church community is still on fire with the Holy Spirit. And it is! He spoke about everyone doing their share - those who don't work, don't eat, as we heard in the Scriptures today. He spoke about things to consider before saying something. Guiding principals from the Rotary Club where he gave an invocation during the week. Is it true? Is it fair to all involved? Will it build goodwill and friendship? Is it beneficial to all concerned? The children that I teach could certainly use those principals. And me too, perhaps. ;-)
So there was food for the soul. And on the way out, with the purchase of a bar-b-q pork sandwich, there was soul food for supper, too. Yum!
Friday morning, I drove into the parking lot at about 6:28 for 6:30 Mass. The lights were on inside church when I passed in front, but there was a noticeable lack of cars in the parking lot. Just one truck. Did I have the right day?? The right time?? Yes to both. Usually Fridays have a good number of people. Maybe today was just really, really off?? So I parked and got out. There on the door was a yellow sticky note: "No Mass".
Bummer. Father had sounded just a bit under the weather yesterday. It was subtle - just a slightly deeper pitch. And the dixie cup of water placed discretely by the candle holder on the altar - just in case. At this time of the year, it seems like every one suffers from some respiratory issue. A friend later confirmed that illness was indeed the case. And when Father's sick, there's no back-up.
But I had Plan B. I drove back home, stopping to pick up a gallon of milk. I got younger child out of bed and facilitated things there. It was Grandparent's Day at his school, which usually entails some special dress. I had neglected to ask about this until this morning. A cowboy hat and shirt, he said. I had no cowboy hats laying around, but we did have a hat that would work. We found a red bandana, and he put on jeans and a Guns and Roses T-shirt. Real country... Whatever.
I dropped him off at school and then rolled on to 7:30 Mass across town where I sometimes go. Where there is Mass e.v.e.r.y weekday morning at 7:30. I was just happy to be there. Happy that there was a Mass that I could make it to.
The homily was thoughtful. Father wondering aloud why Jesus' followers didn't ask "when" (the end would come) instead of "where". Who cares where? But then telling us that we will be ready - we don't need to worrry - if we live by the words of the first reading - "love one another".
A couple of pictures that I snapped out of the car window:
It's a quaint little church. Probably used to be a country parish, but now it's on a busy street surrounded by declining residential areas and light industrial.
Let us pray for holy priests, who rarely ever get a sick day.
I live on the flat coastal plain. Mountains and hills aren't something we see on a regular basis. But a couple of hours from home, there is a place with hills and waterfalls. I've wanted to go there since I was a Girl Scout in another life. Saturday I got my chance. As a Boy Scout mom.
I had heard it was challenging, and my fitness level is not what it once was - back in those Girl Scout days. I've given birth to two children, aged over a quarter of a century, and have a lot more "stored fuel". But a fellow mom assured me, that if I was working out, that I should have no problem.
Well, I survived. My younger child and I joined other parents and boys and set off Saturday morning. We put in a good six hours of hiking up and down hills. As an afterthought, before I left home, I'd grabbed a hiking stick that I'd bought for the kids. It was my best friend for the day. Dear son above had to make his own, because I wasn't giving up the one that I'd brought. But he's a Boy Scout. He can do that!
The waterfalls....well...they didn't resemble Ruby Falls or Niagara Falls by any stretch of the imagination...
But the weather was beautiful. I had another mom friend to keep me company. We brought up the rear of the hikers. (Read: They had to stop and wait for us, because we didn't move as fast as they did. We had to stop and catch our breath from time to time. Because the scenery was so breath-taking. Yeah, that's it!)
This was really my reason for going. To spend time with my offspring. Not every kid can say that his mother hiked 6-7-8 miles with him this weekend. Not every mother can say that her teenager wants to spend time in the same location. At the beginning he was at the head of the pack with the other boys. But as the day wore on, he and his friend hung back with their moms. Moral support, I guess. See that I'm hanging on tight to my hiking stick!
This was one of our accomplishments for the day. Fortunately it was a downhill part of the trail. We got to the bottom - very carefully - and then looked up. Rather impressed with ourselves. Of course, the kids scrambled down it like mountain goats.
Our little group perched on a boulder in the middle of the creek bed late in the afternoon.
Another stop at another waterfall. The kids still have energy.
So, you're standing in a creek bed, you've been hiking for 4 or 5 hours and you see this sign. And you think....I'll go up these steps and voila' I'll be in the parking lot. NOT! There are 80 steps. Yep, I counted them. But no parking lot. A steep climb up another hill - which could probably have used another 80 steps. A trail. And probably another half mile or so - mostly uphill- to the parking lot.
I did it. I can scratch it off my bucket list. I doubt I'll do it again. The company was cheerful and patient. The weather was perfect. The scenery was gorgeous. Yesterday, my calves, my knees, and my toes were where the pain was. Today it's mostly my calves and my quads. I'm pretty much OK - as long as I don't go up or down any steps.
Today's homily started off with a quote from today's responsorial psalm (Lord when your glory appears, my joy will be full.) and something along these lines:
I'd like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep.
I want just enough to equal a cup of warm milk.
Not enough to take control of my life.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
Not enough to change my heart.
I want the warmth of the womb, but not a new birth.
I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack.
I'd like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.
I'd never heard that before. Never gotten it in one of those forwarded emails that has made it around the world 74 times. So it caught my attention. It so neatly sums up what we try to do with God. We try to control Him, to keep Him in a box, to get Him to do what we want, instead of letting Him transform and convert us into what He wants us to be.
We don't really like it when we are called to leave our comfort zones. Really, God? You want me to pray for HER? You want me do what? Go to confession? More than once a year? Serve you how? Are you sure? Now? Forgive who? But that's not what *I* had in mind. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty. I want the easy road. Not the way of the cross. We want to participate in the resurrection, but not so much in the crucifixion.
But if we truly want to follow Jesus, three dollars worth of God is not nearly enough! I need way more than $3 worth of God!
My internet has been giving me the blues the past few days. Slow...taking forever for pages to load....emails not sending....on again off again. But I finally called tonight, and it seems to be back to its normal self. :-)
Wednesday was crazy. Oldest son missed the bus. After a 4-day weekend, he just couldn't get going. But that was OK. His school is right around the corner. Younger son was ready to go, so I dropped one off, and then the other. Life was good. I had plenty of time to make it to Mass. I really had thoughts of just going to sit in the quiet of the church, but since I had time, I figured Mass was where I should be.
As I'm driving down the road, my cell phone rings. It's in the back seat, so I can't get to it until I stop. It's younger son's school, so I call back. The secretary didn't know why he was calling, but she'd get him, and then call me back. I drove on to church. Was sitting in the parking lot, on time for Mass when he called back. HE was having Mass at school that day, and therefore needed PANTS, not the shorts that he had one.
I drove back home, picked up pants (and his ADD meds) and took them to school. I thought that while I had missed Mass, at least HE was attending and maybe God had something that HE needed to hear. I got to school with the all-important pants, only to be told that Father had cancelled Mass.
I wish I could say that the day got better after that, but it continued in that fashion for most of the day. It was just one thing after another, it seemed.
Thursday's gospel, about the lost sheep and the lost coin, made me wonder, "If there is more joy over one repentant sinner in heaven than over 99 who have no need of repentance, exactly where are those 99 rightous people? And why can't I seem to run across them?"
Today is Friday - First Friday. All I can say is that God knew what He was doing when He put a Friday in every week.
Hiking tomorrow with the Boy Scouts. I'm not sure my body is in hiking shape. We shall see!
Yesterday we celebrated All Saints Day and today is All Soul's Day.
My children did not have school yesterday due to parent-teacher conferences, so it was a good day for me to get to confession - with last Saturday and next Saturday not working out schedule-wise. I was feeling like it was time, but nonetheless took some time on Sunday night to pray and reflect and make a list. My sister-in-law had brought home a series of questions based on those verses from Corinthians (?) Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous.... and I used those to take a look at my life. I always make a list in case my mind just goes completely blank, but at 6:15 in the morning....I have a list and I use it!
I made sure I was at church plenty early and the good Father was still sitting in the back pew praying his Rosary. I love that he does that! A son who spends time with his Mother. At the appointed time, he will enter the confessional, so I knelt and prayed. Another lady came from the front of the church once he got up, so I didn't get up and jump in front of her. They both knew that I as there waiting, so I trusted I would get my turn, and I did.
"The saints weren't born saints," he told me. "But they kept their focus on the Lord.....Ask the Lord to make His throne in your heart." (a reference to the 1st reading from Revelations). "That thorn in your side - and all of this is really your thorn - remember that St. Paul also had a thorn in his side. This is what God uses...." It was short and sweet, and we were done. Just like that - my soul was washed - in the Precious Blood of Jesus, some say.
I worked out before heading off to Parent Teacher Conferences for my high-schooler, and then going to spend 11-7 in my classroom waiting for parents. I had scheduled IEP conferences for a couple of kids, so those two parents showed up. I had two others during the 8 hours. One whom I correspond regularly with by email, and another who is trying to get her 13-year-old classified "autistic" so that she can get a check.
It rained most of the day. I got some housekeeping things done in my room. Lesson plans. Grades recorded. Went through the junk on my desk and threw away some. It looks a little better.
It was great to have the day off for election day today. I went to Mass for All Souls Day at the church nearest my house. My sister-in-law drove up at the same time I did in the rainy darkness. I can't make Mass at this time during the school year, so I had been looking forward to today. There are very few white folks at this church, but the people make my heart smile and the priest is awesome, too. Today we remembered the souls of those who had gone before us and were told that we should pray for the grace not to be afraid of death and the grace not to be afraid of life.
We voted. I went for my annual check-up. I must say that I dread the dentist far more (and I'm going there on Thursday). Things moved quickly at the doctor's office, and I didn't feel like going straight home, so I went and browsed the wonderful quiet of the Catholic bookstore on the other side of town. I want to buy everything I see there, but I just bought a handful of books. I will only get to read them if I spend less time on the computer, however.
We had haircuts scheduled for this afternoon, and that went well. I have struggled in recent years to find a style that I like - or any style at all, really. We had time this afternoon, so she blow dried and straightened. Looks cute. Now if she could just come to my house at about 5:30 a.m on a regular basis...
Tonight the election returns are on. Dear hubby popped some popcorn. So I think that I will go and join them...
I'm the wife of one ancient man and the mom of two teen beings with Y chromosomes.
I teach middle school special ed, and I'm slightly "touched".
I've always been Catholic, but in recent years my faith has become much more important in my life. Now I'm a "Happy Catholic."