Friday, December 31, 2010

measuring a year

Boys and things that blow up, make noise, light up, shoot.  I'll never understand.  But here we are on New Year's Eve.  In a few hours, 2010 will be "in the books"

This is my 240th blog post this year.  My mental math tells me that is a blog post 2 days out of 3 (assuming 1 per day).  When I started this endeavor, I wasn't sure I would keep up with it.  But it has been good.  For months I posted and posted with only the rare comment.  But now there are about 2 or 3 people that sometimes read it.  Maybe more, who knows?  I've shared it with some of the people close to me.  They say nice things, but I'm not sure if they check back very often.  Probably they have lives.  ;-)  But still I write.  Because I think when I write.  This was a post that the Holy Spirit wrote with me.  And this one - related to the same experience - was one that was written, rewritten, chopped, and cropped.  It never did quite express what I wanted /needed it too. 

How do you measure a year?

In Masses?  I went to lots.

In funerals?  I think I went to only one - my BFF's mom.

In money?  Not enough.

How about in blessings?  There were so, so many.  I listed some of them here at the end of the summer.  God hasn't stopped giving.  

Can you measure a year in trials?  There were some of them, too.  Most of them work-related, which I guess is better than them being home-related.  But even in the midst of darkness, there was light.  

In friendships?  In new ones sparked and fanned into flames.  Or in old ones that give off a warm, steady glow?  I have the bestest friends!

Maybe you can measure it in championships?  There was the Saints Superbowl win.  Something that is still just amazing.  It was so good, so sweet, on so many levels.  And there was my brother-in-law's team - another great story

Lord, however we measure it, however we remember it when we look back, we know that You were with us through it all.  Your Divine Hand is always upon us.  You make all things work for good.  You, alone, bring light out of the darkness.  Lord, draw us close to you.  Pour your graces and your blessings upon us in the coming year.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

May God bless you and yours in the upcoming year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

patron saints

I ran across a post yesterday on Why I Am Catholic that suggested adopting a new patron saint for the upcoming year.  The author does a great job of explaining the whole reasoning behind it.  Worth a read!

Sounded good to me, so I decided to give it a spin.  Click here for an app that will assign you a random saint.  My patron saint, by virtue of my baptismal name, is St. Elizabeth of Hungary.  My great-grandmother emigrated (or is it immigrated?) to the United States from Hungary, and her name was Elizabeth.  So I've always felt that connection.  St. Michael and St. Anthony are two that I go to often, and St. Anne was my confirmation saint - mostly because I liked the name.  (Coincidentally, it is my BFF's name, but I didn't really know her then.)  Anyway, I digress.

So I decided this sounded interesting, said a quick prayer and clicked.  Who landed on my screen but St. Patrick? I have often felt a connection with him, too.  My grandfather is part Irish.  I remember a few years ago being at Mass on the Feast of St. Patrick and being struck with the certainty that I likely owe my Catholicism today to him and the works that he accomplished (with the help of the Holy Spirit) over a thousand years ago.  Who's to say that God wouldn't have intervened in some other way if things hadn't gone as planned with St. Pat, but it was somewhat of a lightbulb moment.  Anyway - he's over there in the sidebar, and I'll have another Saint who I can ask for prayers on a regular basis!

My boys have plenty of good baptismal patron saint names to pick from - Daniel, Francis, Alexander, and Bernard - but one has developed a special fondness of St. Anthony and the other thinks that St. Michael is pretty cool looking (probably because of the sword and the whole stabbing the devil thing). 

I had my oldest try out the random saint generator and St. Josemaria Escriva popped up on his screen.  I'll update when I get younger son to put down the X-box long enough to give this his attention. 

Updating to Add:  Finally I had a chance to have my younger teen click on the saint generator.  His saint - St. Matthias, the apostle.  We'll see how that works out for him. 

Give it a try?  Let me know who your new intercessor is?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Sitting here.  On my bed with a laptop.  Listening to the rain outside; it's coming down hard.  Then there's thunder.  A nice winter night?  My younger teen is laying on the bed next to me listening to his iPod, but not paying me any attention.  Good thing we like some of the same music.  Journey.

Today feels like nothing got done.  Only a couple of things can be erased from my to-do list.  I renewed my driver's license - overall a pleasant experience taking less than an hour.  I went to Mass this morning.  My dear hubby's uncle/Godfather was sitting right behind me.  We shook hands at the sign of peace, but he didn't recognize me.  I cleaned up a small bit of the clutter in my room.  I have 2 bags of clothes ready to go to Goodwill.  I took my the younger teen to GameStop, so he could buy a game for his new game system.  A trip to Target, and a stop by the Starbucks inside of Target.  He got one of those million calorie frozen drinks, I just had a few slurps of his. 

The rest of the day seems like it just got frittered away.  I played with my new iPad Christmas present - trying to figure things out.  I caught up on a few blogs.  I posted on Facebook.  My littlest step-grandchild had surgery this afternoon for his staph infection.  I kept posted on that.  All indications are that it went well.  Just one of those days.  A To-Do list a mile long that I mostly ignored.  Maybe that's OK.

Meeting two friends from college, whom I haven't seen in many years for coffee tomorrow.  The wonders of Facebook!  We were all in the same major.  One was my roommate and a year younger than me.  The other is my age.  We took so many classes together, studied together, and unofficially competed with each other (for grades, for scholarships, for jobs...)  Very much looking forward to that!


No use trying to put the pictures where I would like them....picture placement roulette...but somewhere up there are the six grandkids, my 2 kids, my niece, my dear hubby, and my stepson (the father/son BarBQ team!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

running on empty

It has been a hectic three days.

We went to Mass Sunday morning and then left to visit family in another state.  The trip took about 7 hours or so.  We visited when we got there.  We visited on Monday - spent the whole day there. Watched the Saints game.   And we stopped in for a quick "hello" this morning before we left for another 7 hours or so back home.  Dear [grouchy] hubby, two sons, mother-in-law and niece.  The visit was great, and so were my traveling companions (except for the one I'm married to) but I need time to recharge.

I haven't had eight seconds to myself since Sunday morning - except for now - and it is time!  I haven't had time to pray, to journal, or to even think.

This morning while we were stopped at the gas station, I got a phone call.  The caller ID read "11:00 Holy Hour".  There is a perpetual adoration chapel near my house, and some time ago, I volunteered to substitute when "the regulars" can't make their assigned time, so I get a call every couple of months.  (I give the callers *some* identity in my list of contacts, so I don't ignore them, thus the '11:00 Holy Hour' designation.)  This request was for New Year's evening.  We don't usually do anything or go out, so I accepted.  Jesus wants to spend some time with me on New Year's Eve, and I am looking forward to visiting Him.  

[Just wondering....after rereading this you think it is significant that I got this phone call to spend time with Jesus while we were stopped at a gas station?  My pastor likes to say that there are no coincidences with God.  Maybe while we were refueling the car, this is an invitation for me to refuel....since I was running on empty, myself...just wondering...]

When hubby was having "a moment" this morning, I ran the idea of working on "patience" this year by him.  (From Sunday's homily suggestion.)  He came back with some smart-arse answer, but I planted the seed.  We can work on it with or without him, I suppose.

Back to the real world tomorrow.  Mass in the morning.  Laundry.  Cleaning.  Prayer.  Putting away.  Doing school stuff.  Pushing the teenagers to get stuff done.  Finding missing items. Catching up with friends.  Solving some iPad glitches. Practicing patience.  Recharging.  Refueling.  Breathing.

Please pray for my youngest step grandchild.  (He will be 2 in a few days.)  He was admitted to the hospital this evening with a nasty staph infection on his leg.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

holy family

I'm on the road - headed to see my stepson and his family today.  With six kids under 11, it is anything but a holy experience, most of the time. (Add in to that equation that I'm bringing 3 teenagers - my boys and my niece - to add to the mix.)

Nonetheless - they serve as a model for our own families which are works in progress.

We are leaving from Mass Sunday for a six hour drive (writing this on Saturday), so I'm not sure if I'll be back to post further insights, reflections, or miscellaneous.

Keep Christ in the Christmas Season!

Gotta come back and add after the homily at Mass today. First of all, the good father read a bit of what John Paul II had to say about holy families and the domestic church. Mary and Joseph did not have a holy family because they "had it made". They struggled with things just as we do. They had a holy family because of the presence of Jesus in their family. We can not blame the government, the media or society. The closing challenge of the homily was to take one of the virtues - just one - from the second reading and to work on cultivating that virtue in our family during the upcoming year. Then next year we would also be celebrating our own family as a holy family. Worth trying, I think.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Our Christmas celebration began Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law's house with dear hubby's family.  In an effort to spend less and give more, we decided to pull names this year, with each person receiving only one gift.  I can't speak for the others, but this lessened the stress tremendously for me!  My boys weren't real excited about just getting *one* gift, but in the end, I think it worked out for them.

They got involved with the actual gift selection (instead of leaving it all for ME!) and they were happy with the gift that they got.  My younger son got Monster Energy Drinks (like he needs any energy) , gum, and an iTunes gift card from his cousin, and he thought he had won the lottery!  We spent time enjoying a seafood gumbo, making egg nog and enjoying each others' company rather than obsessing over gifts. 

Thirteen-year-old son had his uncle's name.  He put a lot of work into loading down this big box (with Sports Illustrated and other things - which was kind of a langiappe gift for his football coach uncle) - to make it appear like it was something other than a gift card. 

The grandmas collaborating over egg nog.  My mother-in-law and my brother-in-law's mom.  We took time to enjoy this, instead of seeing it as a way to delay the almighty present-opening.

I got one gift - a beautiful book about the life of the Blessed Mother from sister-in-law.  Artwork and explanations.  She said the Blessed Mother led her to it, and that works just fine for me!

We went to Mass this morning - both the boys and I had to serve at 8:30.  Yesterday I had floated the idea of opening gifts AFTER Mass (Jesus first, then presents).  I figured things would be rushed before Mass.  Surprisingly, the idea was well-received, and that's pretty much what we did.

Mass seemed somewhat anti-climatic after Advent and after helping with the decorating.  The Christmas Eve Mass (which we did NOT attend this year) was packed to the rafters last night, but there were plenty of places to sit this morning.  It was beautiful.  It always is.  Father's homily was about there being no coincidences with God.  That Jesus being born in Bethlehem and being placed in a manger was no coincidence.  Bethlehem literally meaning "House of Bread" and a manger being where food is placed.  Jesus - the food for our journey back to Him - being placed in a manger.  He is there to give be our courage when we feel anxious.  He is there to embrace us when we are tempted.  He is there to be our strength when we are weak.  He is there to show us His heart (which is Mercy) when we fall.  All because we are engraved as a deep wound upon His heart.  (that image again)

After Mass, we went back home and opened gifts!  I only got one, but it was an iPad.  No further words are needed!!  We did not spend less on the boys this year.  X-box, iPod dock and other assorted things.

Then we drove to my parents' house and enjoyed the family there.  My kids got pajama pants and money, and seemed pretty happy.  When we got home, I remarked to my husband that it was a good Christmas.  We didn't get any useless presents.  He agreed.

There were a ton of good pictures from my parents' house, but these are some of my favorites.


My 3-year-old niece.  She looks so bored by the activity!

My Godchild.  He's 2!  Look at him put out those candles..  He has a great future as an altar server!

Here he is with Grandma making punch.  She is one of his absolute favorite people in the world.


My grandfather with my niece.  He will be 95 in a few months, and her birthday is within a week.  He has the best thing in the world right here - a sleeping baby on his lap.  Appropriate for the day that God broke into our history and became a sleeping baby in our Blessed Mother's arms. 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

getting ready

It has been a great Advent!  I went into it with few expectations other than a resolution to be more faithful to prayer.  With God's grace, that has gone quite well!

I did take a day at the beginning of December to go on a Day of Recollection, and that was wonderful!  I came away from that time of reflection with a couple of things - God wants me to be patient and God wants me to look for Him in the paperwork and the meetings - in the things of ordinary life.  The very next Sunday, one of the readings was about patience, and it seems like that topic has come up time and again in my daily prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours.

I went to confession, and made sure that my boys had the opportunity to go.  My penance - once I dumped the darkness in my life - was to reflect on and give thanks to God for the way His Light is able to shine in my life.   I took one of my boys the other night when Father set aside an extra hour to hear confessions, and he said that he got to suggest his own penance.  I've gotten some variation of that a time or two.  My teenager's take on it was "Hey, it's YOUR job to come up with the penance." 

Shopping has not been over the top this year.  I feel a little bad that I don't think their will be too many (any?) surprises for my boys under the tree.  But there will be things.  Things that they want.  We drew names with dear hubby's family, and that cut the gift list nearly in half.  With my family, we decided to buy for our Godchildren.  I ended up with an "adopted" Godchild to ensure that no kid would be left without a gift, but it's all good.  I bought him a few small items, but also included a necklace with a medal of his patron saint, and had it blessed this morning.

I had wanted to do a post about the O Antiphons.  Maybe tomorrow?  Christmas Eve - yeah, right.  Maybe next year?

Last year, my sons and some other Boy Scouts were in need of service hours for their rank advancement.  The good Monsignor graciously allowed them to help with decorating the church for Christmas.  I think all he really wanted them for was to carry the Nativity figures from the hall to the church, but we ended up staying a couple of hours.  The boys were somewhat helpful with other things, and the other mom and I enjoyed helping, too.  When we offered to help this year again, there was no hesitation.

The boys got stuff from the attic and closet, hung wreathes, carried figures and flowers, and generally helped out.  Father likes to have a hand in things, so he was there calling the shots.  The lady who has been doing the decorating for several years is "retiring", and asked the other mom and I if we would like to "take over".  I am now one-half of the decorating "committee".  So ironic, because decorating is so NOT one of my gifts.   

Older child hanging a wreath.  

The Nativity Scene.  This was the work of the good Monsignor.
Notice the candles on either side.  
That ties in with the candles on either side of the altar and the candles on either side of the tabernacle.  
The Light of the World.

Decoration on the choir loft.  It looks uneven/weird because the sun is shining through.

Wreathes under the Stations of the Cross.  We "fluffed and hung".

The Sanctuary.  The altar is bare, but Father said he'd take care of that later.  

We down-sized our tree and decorated today.  Now there are signs at my house that Christmas is coming. 
Christmas Eve will be my official "wrapping day". 

Ready or not - here He comes!  Are we more ready to receive Him into our lives than we were four weeks ago?  He is with us always.  God-with-us.  Do we find Him (or even look for Him) in the drudgery of meetings and paperwork and ordinary life?

From today's homily:  Does Jesus really make a difference in our lives?  Are we willing to let Him draw us closer?  (If not, then we are celebrating a pagan solstice - not Christmas.)    The bottom line borrowed from John - "I must decrease so that He can increase." 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

home stretch

Here we are in the fourth week of Advent.  Someone pointed out how fortunate we are to actually get the full four weeks of Advent this year!

We got out for the Christmas Break (yes, it is still called CHRISTMAS holidays here) on Friday.  Sixteen glorious school-free days stretched ahead.  But they are flying by.  They really are the shortest days of the year!

 A couple of pictures from last Saturday:


Our little group of Boy Scouts celebrated Christmas with a bonfire and gumbo.  It's become an annual tradition.  The weather was great for it this year - not too cold, but cool enough that the warmth of the fire was appreciated.  The company was good, and the food - as always - was delicious.  

One thing that we don't want to become an annual tradition is what happened on Monday.  The owners of the property where the fire was held had checked the fire on Sunday, wet it down, etc.  They were a little surprised to get a call on Monday saying that their pasture was on fire!  Took six fire trucks to put it out!  But only grass was burned, so that was fortunate.  Those trees to the right in the top picture - weed trees (Chinese Tallow; they call them "Chicken Trees" here) - anyway, the property owner wanted them to burn.  Naturally, the fire went around them!  They are still standing.

Went to daily Mass Monday morning.  It was so nice to get there early since I didn't have to worry about waking anyone up and getting them out the door and on a bus.  Time to enjoy the silent presence of God.  

As we left church, one of the Sisters commented about how beautiful this tree was:  
I'm glad she noticed it.  And I just happened to have my camera with I snapped a picture!  

Our priest heard confessions Monday night - first time he's ever added extra time to the confession schedule, so that was a nice treat!  I had one child who hadn't been in a few months, so we dropped by.  Other child and I had gone a couple of weeks ago.  I thought about going again - if for nothing else than the example thing - but it just wasn't calling my name.  I was glad to see that there were a handful of other sinners there.  Hopefully, our dear priest felt it was worth his while and will do it again.  Thirty minutes on Saturday afternoon and 3 mornings a week from 6:15 - 6:25 just isn't very much to pick from!

I have put together 2 photo books in the past week.  They came out nice (I hope), but I'm pretty certain that the one I finished today won't be here in time for Christmas Eve.  I have an idea of something simple I can put together so SIL will have something to open.  I also made a photo calendar for my parents.  Time consuming, but I'm always pleased with the results.  

This has been the least stressful before-Christmas period that I can ever remember.  I still have stuff to buy, and I have wrapped nothing, but it is still do-able, and I naturally wait until the last minute.  No tree has been put up yet.  We have down-sized our gift list (which has probably greatly contributed to lower stress) and I think we are going to down-size the tree, as well.  Bah-humbug? 

Stayed up late last night (partly for the eclipse).  Got up early for Mass.  Took a nap this afternoon.  Which will cause me to stay up late again.  Isn't vacation great?

Thursday, we (me and the boys) are helping with decorations at church.  We did that last year, as service for Boy Scouts, and it was fun!  Looking forward to it this year.  The boys had a great time climbing around in the attic at church, and they must not have stressed our pastor too much, because he readily accepted our offer to help this year.

Chances are I'll be blogging again between now and Christmas.  But if not - a very, Merry Christmas to you and yours.  O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  God-is-with-us!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

brotherly love

This week, I witnessed an encounter between my 2 boys that was priceless.

My 13-year old - the "cooler" of the two, had a school dance Friday night.  When we got home from school, he went straight to his 15-year-old brother for advice.  Older brother is a good kid, but kind of marches to the beat of his own drum sometimes.

Older brother goes to work:   Well, first of all you are not wearing that [Guns and Roses] t-shirt to the dance.  You gotta have a polo shirt.  And not those shirts with the stripes that you wear to church.  You can borrow one of mine.

And next thing- you gotta lose those jeans with the cargo pockets.

And your hair...  You have to do something with your hair.  They were in the bathroom with older brother brushing younger brother's hair (and he was letting him do it!)  I was in there, as well, because that is where our dryer is, and I was folding clothes.  "'s a Kodak moment," I commented.  "I should get the camera."  "Yeah, Mom, get the camera."  They closed the door and locked it when I left to get the camera.

It really was a great interaction between the two of them.

As for my 13 year old, he came home complaining that he STILL did not ask a girl to dance with him, but he was thrilled that he had made $30 selling 2 packs of gum.  He is his father's child!  Selling gum for $1/stick.

God of the impossible

That's our God - the God of the impossible situations. 

The homily today at Mass focused on Joseph and how the found himself in an impossible situation - a wife pregnant with a child that surely wasn't his, but even more impossible - a wife with a child conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Ummm....yeah...sure....tell me another one.  'But because Joseph was a man of great faith, he was also a man of great surrender'.  And because of that surrender/faith, he came to know Jesus - God -in-the-flesh in ways that we can not even imagine.  The parting food for thought from the homily - Why does God want to be present in our lives?  Because each of us engraved as a deep wound on His heart. 

Impossible situations.  Surrender.  Engraved on the Heart of God. 

I know friends with situations that seem impossible.  Cancer diagnoses. Issues with grown children. Troubled marriages.  Family issues.  Financial stuff.  Grief.

I know that I've felt like I've been in situations that were just unbearable.  Not life or death.  Just miserable with no seeming way out.  The issues I've faced in the past year at school, for one. 

Surrender is a work in progress for me.  Never my first option.  First option would be protesting about how it is not fair, and then looking for alternate routes, complete with figurative (if not actual) kicking and screaming.  And then finally, like a child that has been placed in their crib to "cry it out", I realize that the kicking and screaming doesn't help.  I know that someone is there, and I know that even if I don't understand why I'm in the spot that I'm in...there's a reason.  And eventually, I let it go...slowly.   OK, God.  I don't know why I'm here or why You think I need to go through this, but I know You have something in mind.  And I trust that in the end, it will work out.  You will bring some good from this, somehow - in only a way that you can.

At the end of last school year, I was facing a supervisor who would have driven me to drink or quit, a class of kids who would have made me lose what little sanity I cling to, and an administrator who was miserable in their job and openly hostile to me.  But God never lets us go.  In August, I found out my supervisor had resigned!!  In October, my class of insanity finally went to a better place.  That left only one major thorn in my side.  One night, earlier in the school year,  as I was replaying events from the day in my head and telling God, "You know, God, I don't really need this $%&@ in my life."  I heard a small little answer, "You know, Karen, maybe you do."  That was when I could finally say, "Alrighty, then.  I don't understand.  I don't know why.  But obviously, You do.  Go ahead.  I give up." 

Since that time, the thorn has barely spoken to me, and the silence has been good.  I almost like work again. Every once in a while ugliness raises its head, but it is a reminder to pray.  I kick and scream for a bit, because surrender is a work in progress, but in the end, it's OK.   God is there.

Engraved as a deep wound on the Heart of God.  I guess that is most of us, and a thought worthy of prayer and reflection.

Let us remember to pray for those in impossible situations.  I don't have to look far right now to see them.  May those in those situations find a deep intimacy with God through their surrender. 

sunday snippets

....a Catholic Carnival... 

Every week R'Annn at This That and the Other Thing hosts a meme for Catholic Bloggers to post snippets of interest from the previous week.  Check it out.  Join the fun!

My contributions from the week:

champions ... about our weekend in New Orleans - lots of pictures; some words; nothing too weighty

being fed... snippets and thoughts from various homilies and prayers from the beginning of the week

and.... His mysterious ways ....because God is with us in the midst of middle school dances and missed buses...

Peace!  And wishes for a blessed, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

His mysterious ways

Tomorrow is the last day before the Christmas break at school.

Today there was a dance - during school hours.  Why it wasn't tomorrow, along with the band and chorus concert that was earlier in the week - who knows - but today during last hour was the dance.  I must have drawn the short straw, because I had duty on the dance floor.

Just shoot me.  Tomorrow night at my 8th grader's Catholic school, there is a dance.  I am all for being an involved parent, and I am there a couple of mornings a week in all kinds of weather helping in the car-rider line, but I will be dropping dear child off tomorrow night and hoping that I stay awake long enough to pick him up at 10:00.  I would rather unload cars in the freezing rain than chaperone a junior high dance.

But today I didn't have a choice.  The music sounded like dump trucks running into each other over and over again, and the volume was painfully loud. We walked around with our fingers in our ears.  Next time I will bring ear plugs.  Seriously.  And the things that one sees on the dance floor.... oh my!

About 45 minutes into the misery, my cell phone began to vibrate.  First with a number I didn't recognize.  (I don't answer those during school.)  Then with my sister-in-law's.  Then my husband.  Then the voice mails started coming in. I excused myself from the frenetic madness that passes as a dance to see who had died. 

My dear high school son had missed the bus!  First time all year he's missed it in the afternoon.  Mother-in-law couldn't find her keys, and dear husband was out of town, so that left only me to go get him.  Darn!

When he got in the car, I told him "thank you" (for rescuing me from dance duty).  He knew I had lost my mind.

I asked how it happened that he had missed the bus, and he launched into a story, "Well it began 3 months ago...."  Something about a locker that wouldn't open, finally getting someone to open the locker today at the very end of the day, and I don't know what else.  Anyway, what began three months ago, finally came to a conclusion today causing him to miss the bus while I was chaperoning  a middle school dance.  How great are God's ways!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

being fed

One of my morning Mass buddies... we first "noticed" each other a couple of summers ago when we were the only white people at the "black" church that we like to go to...and then realized that we are often at Daily Mass together at various parishes... - anyway, she often says that she goes to Mass where she is "fed".

The last couple of days have been rich, indeed.  Yesterday was the Gospel from Matthew where the chief priests (religiously devout of the day) were trying to trip up Jesus by asking him by what authority he did things.  He turned the tables on them, and eventually refused to answer, since he knew it was a no-win.  Father says it was decision time for those chief priests and elders - would they accept Jesus or not?  They refused.  We face the same decision.  Do we accept his authority? 

Later in the homily he said that sometimes we do not understand our own motivations for some of the things we do.  He compared that to being "strangers in your own house", and said that the Lord can reveal to you motivations and things you don't know... Good news, I suppose!

My favorite line from the homily, though:  The Lord did not come to bring us a holiday!  He came to change our lives.  [if we let him...]  So many get so wrapped up in the trappings of the holiday...

Today's Mass was at a different parish with a different priest.  He spoke some about St. John of the Cross, whose feast day it was today.  The readings were different than the ones in the misallette; relating to the cross.   The homily told how St. John became detached even from the things of nature which he loved a great deal. We were cautioned about getting so attached to God's gifts that we put them in the place of God.  I had never heard that line of thinking before, and thought that was an interesting

Editing to add this bit that was in this priest's column in the bulletin:   "...our longing for God can easily get overwhelmed by our wants and desires for things...not just material goods...I mean also things like peace and serenity and health and happiness and holiness and generosity and forgiveness.  So often when I even begin to open my heart to God, it is because I want/need/desire that I receive those things.  Is there perhaps a deeper need that extends to simply wanting God, rather than settling for what God gives to me?  Instead of a prayer that cries out, "I need this" or "I want that", might our prayer simply be, "I need you"?  Are we living in a longing for God's gifts, rather than the simplicity of a longing for God?...May our hearts be filled with a passionate desire for God.  ~Fr. KL

Sunday, December 12, 2010


What a great weekend it was!

My brother-in-law is the head football coach at a school across town.  He is a good guy who knows how to make winners out of the kids that come to him.  This year's team had an extra hurdle thrown at them when  an ineligible player was discovered late in the season and had to forfeit the four games that he had played in.  Suddenly instead of having one loss for the season, they had five.  Making the state play-offs was no longer a given.

But something happened during that time.  Tears were shed and anger was dealt with.  But the team focused on the task at hand, bonded, and matured.  They set their goal and did what was needed to achieve it.  They won their last two regular season games 63-0 (that anger was channeled) and 56-33, and slid into the play-offs - number 27 in a field of 32.  Then they picked off all the top-rated teams that they played.  They didn't just win; they rolled over the top of the field.... 56-6, 49-7, 41-20 (with the second string in).  I think three of the teams that they beat were undefeated.

The semi-final game was especially sweet.  A rematch with the only team that had beaten them on the field during the season.  Another local team; a rival.  They played at the opponents' home field.  You had to be there hours ahead of time to get a seat.  The opponents sat in stunned silence as they lost 31-0.  They thought they would be playing the same team that they had played earlier in the season.  They were wrong.

All of this paved "the road to the dome".  And since they were going to the dome, it meant a road trip for me and mine!

We left Saturday morning.  That's "the basin" through the car window in the picture above.  It's pretty in the fall morning.

When we got to New Orleans, we met up with my stepson (who had come from San Antonio), his wife, and his two oldest children.  Here they are at the River Walk with "the uncles" - my boys.

We ate lunch, and they threw leftovers to the sea gulls.  It was quite a sight - those birds catching chunks of bread and french fries in mid air.  I didn't get any actual action pictures of that!

After some time at the River Walk, we contemplated our next move.  A trip to New Orleans just isn't complete without this

and this -
(beignets and cafe' au lait)

One of my children has an unusual interest - visiting churches.  
So a visit to St. Louis Cathedral was high on his "to do" list for the day. 
We left dear hubby - for whom walking is difficult - at Cafe du Monde with stepson and family,
and set off across Jackson Square for the Cathedral.  

That's my boys!
They got there a few steps ahead of me and were so disappointed to see that a wedding was about to begin and they were not allowed inside to look around.  :-(  

So we contented ourselves with the small area in the back of the church...
There was a you think it's the Poor Souls in Purgatory?
I'm reading a book right now called Hungry Souls, so purgatory is on the brain....

Then they bought candles from the gift shop and lit them (for the outcome of the game).
They've done this before...and have never been disappointed.

There are always "sights" in New Orleans.  Saw several of these types of "artists". 

Here's another "sight".
My "initial buddy".  The second oldest of my step-grandkids.
We share the same middle and last names and first initial.  She is quite a character!

We passed it coming and going.  Each time the windows and roof caught my attention.
It just looks a little crooked. 

I have no pictures of the activity in the Dome last night.  I didn't want to mess with my camera. 
It was a great game.  Close.  Exciting.  

The games ran behind schedule.  It was nearly midnight when "our" game ended, and close to 1, by the time we got back to our room.
I took this picture from our window - just because I wanted to take pictures in the dark.
We got up early this morning and made it home in time to go to 10:30 Mass at our own parish.
We were glad we did that.  (And then we all took naps this afternoon.)
The homily was about patience.  Which I need more of.

Oh - I do have this picture of the Dome.
It looks like something from outer space landing behind the buildings.....

And I do have this picture that my niece posted to Facebook..  

So are they winners or champions or both?
Life is good!  A great weekend!  

The team's supporters had T-shirts this weekend...

Teams with Character overcome Adversity.
 What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
We're Back!

Lessons well-learned.

sunday snippets

R'Ann over at This That and the Other Thing, hosts a weekly meme for Catholic Bloggers to share posts from the week which might be of interest to others.  Check it out!

It was a prolific week here.  You can just click on the blog title and scroll down from there, or click on the posts below that might call to you.

Our parish celebrated our 50th Anniversary last Sunday.  The Bishop celebrated with us.  Here is a short, sweet recall of his homily and a longer editorial about the day's events and our parish here

I went on a "day of recollection" on Tuesday.  The silence it provided was great.  Thoughts and reflections along with pictures. 

Thoughts on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. 

Finally, reflections and musings on "doing Advent". 

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

doing advent

I generally appreciate the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent.  There seems to be a grace - I've noticed it often during Lent - that allows me to do things that don't seem possible at other times of the year. 

This is the first year I've noticed that during Advent.  For years past, we've had an Advent wreath on the table and lit it at some points during Advent - reading a reflection along with it.  My boys tolerated it, I think, so they could blow out the candles at the end.  Cheap thrill.  This year, one night when I was afraid the power was going to go out due to the weather, I stuck some tired, used candles in the wreath.  And that is what has remained.  It is has been largely ignored. 

I did though, have some plans for Advent, and I wrote them down at the beginning, in "The Little Blue Book".  One plan was a return to a more structured prayer life, especially after realizing that my personal prayer life was being put way at the back of the line or not at all. That is going well. It is really not that big of a deal to put prayer BEFORE computer time.  Reconciliation was next on the list.  Check.  Still have one of my offspring to arrange this sacrament for.  He has decided that confessing to our parish priest is a little too personal.  "He knows us too good, Mom."

Looking at ways to simplify gift giving has been another one.  Going well.  Sister and I simplified for the children and eliminated the adults exchanging gifts.  I suggested donating to a charity, and she was alright with that.  Hubby and I sent some financial assistance to a lady we know who struggles.  She was very appreciative. 

One thing at the bottom of the list  - working on attitudes - remains a work in progress (or maybe it's not even in progress).  

I was introduced to "The Advent Conspiracy" on another blog.  Look for them on YouTube, if it strikes a chord.  Their ideas are to "Give Presence". Worship Fully.  Spend Less.  Give More.  Love All. 

The theme of Mass today was Wisdom.  From the Opening Prayer (that prayer no one listens to, says our bishop):  ...May we live as he has taught, ready to welcome him with burning love and faith...  That's what wisdom is, says our wise pastor.    At the end of the Gospel, we see that "...Wisdom is vindicated by her works."

Throughout Advent the theme has been repeated that there are things God has done, things God is doing, and things that God will do in the future - if we let Him.  There are things that happen "in the beauty of the struggle". 

From today's Evening Prayer from Psalm 116.... I called on the Lord's name...I was helpless so he saved me..... It just sounds so matter of fact.  Like, would he do any other thing.  I call.  I'm helpless.  He saves.  End of story.   I turned the page and saw this gem from Psalm 121....My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  That was my mantra last year.

From today's Blue Book:  If the Messiah was to bring freedom, and the Messiah has come, I should experience this freedom.  Here.  Now.  And I can.  It is the freedom of realizing that I don't have to be God.  I don't have to be the Messiah.... All I have to do is my best, and pray and know God loves me.  I can let God be God....and rejoice. 

Hope you are all having a Blessed Advent!

pay the bill

How do you get on the intercom and tell 700 people (give or take a few) that the water has been turned off and they can't use the bathroom until further notice??  Just another sign of how much they value us....

One of our 8th graders was hollering something about "pay the bill" between classes.

For the record, it was only off a little more than an hour, and I only know of one teacher that had to leave campus to use the little teachers' room.  Thanks, Burger King.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

He cares for us, too

Wednesday was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so I'm a few days late in blogging this.  Better late than never, though, I suppose.  Some days just don't have enough hours.

I have never been a big "Mary person,"  but this past year - past six months, really - I have developed quite an affection for her.  It's been a work in progress and a great blessing.

My older son and I attended the anticipated Mass for the feast on Tuesday.  I was a little disappointed that the church was only slightly more crowded than a regular daily Mass.  My kids don't balk at coming to Mass - although I know there were other places my 15 year old would have rather been.  A mostly empty church tells them that most people (the ones that are there on Sundays) don't value these Holy Days of Obligation very much, even if their mother does.

My personal little rant.  That's when the "Body of Christ" figures into the whole deal.  Kind of the "takes a village" mentality (which I generally don't care for).

Our homily was about the great things God did in Mary's life.  How He cared so much for her and was so intimately involved even before her conception.  But guess what?  He cares just as much for us and wants to do the same things in our lives.

The next morning, before school, I stopped by the church near my school to spend some quiet time.  I haven't done that in quite a while.  As I was about ready to leave, my co-worker friend came in while I was there.  We prayed for a bit, and then left, taking a moment in the parking lot to chat.  It was too cold to chat for long, though.

When my kids are not in the car - because they usually adjust the station to their tastes - I listen to KLOVE, which is a nice Christian Station.  I like their music, but I think it's fair to say that many of their staff and listeners wouldn't quite share the Catholic level of devotion to the Blessed Mother.  Anyway, as I started my car, I heard the announcer say, "...... 'Wow God!' story.  What God did in Mary's life, He wants to do in all of our lives!"  I can only guess that a listener - coincidentally (?) named Mary had called in and shared something amazing that God had done in her life.    Thought that was cool.

Wanted to share this bit of music.  I heard it twice on Tuesday - once at our retreat, and then again as the offertory song at Mass.  Go ahead and sing along with John Michael when he gets to the Holy....Holy....Holy is His name.... even if you can't sing.  I could listen again and again.....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

a little silence

Sister-in-law and I had signed up for a women's "day of recollection" in early November.  I had seen it in a church bulletin (it's a sickness - picking up a bulletin of whatever parish you visit), and we had sent in our $$ in plenty of time.   But we got back letters saying that we were being placed on the waiting list. 

Tuesday was the long-anticipated day, and since we had both gotten subs for the day, we decided to go anyway.  If they let us stay, fine.  If not, then we would have our own day of recollection somewhere.  They warned us that we might have to sit on the floor, but they let us stay.

There were two presenters, and there were a lot of messages woven into the day.  Femininity, waiting, loving, listening, quiet, utter active receptivity (try that one on for size!), slowing down, surrender, and more.  Wonderful advent messages.

But the best part for me - maybe for all of us - was the silence.  After we listened to the first presentation, we were told to meet back at 11:30 in the cafeteria for lunch.  There would be silence until then.

So SIL and I walked outside.  
It was a little cold, but we found spots in the sun.  
I stretched out on a bench.  
She walked on further and found a chair.

Very peaceful. 


I found that it wasn't a time so much to talk to God, as a time to listen.
It was confirmation for me that I'm not the crazy one for craving silence in my daily life.
That, in fact, we NEED it. 


I had forgotten my journal, so I had to improvise.  I still found a place to write.
And I reached into my bag and found some things to meditate upon.  
Things that seemed to be just what I needed to hear.

God has a plan for my life.  I knew that already.
And that plan includes paperwork and meetings.  
Only God knows.

And he wants me to be patient.
He is there.  In the craziness.  In the mind-numbing paperwork.  In the endless meetings.

We were behind an old, historic church.
There seemed to be cemeteries on all sides.
A reminder of  the promise of something better.

And then there was school today.
The stupid IEP program wouldn't work when I had time to use it.
And so it begins.
The chances to practice patience and looking for God in the paperwork.
One of my co-workers so neatly summed it up...
Re-entry's a b!tch, isn't it?
Yeah, but worth it!

While I was there, I signed up for a 3-day silent retreat in September.  Can't wait!