Each Sunday, R'Ann at This, That and the Other Thing hosts a weekly meme for Catholic bloggers to highlight posts that might be of interest to other like-minded folks. This week, she highlights a book review that she did about a volunteer from Planned Parenthood, who found herself crossing over to "the other side". Sounds like a fascinating book.
As for me, life keeps rolling along at a winter pace, I guess. The sinus crud made it's appearance, and life is more effort when you're feeling about 75% capacity. Not sick enough to be sick, and not well enough to be well. A signal to slow down, I suppose.
On the slowing down note, thank you to those who stopped to offer prayers for A and her family (I saw mom and dad at Mass this morning) and for my principal (who will be out for at least a month).
It's a picture of the sky at sunrise one morning last week. The sky was pink.
It seems like there is little of interest to write about these days. One day rolls into the next without anything too remarkable to report. Finding beauty in the ordinary, they say.
The weather was dreary on Monday and Tuesday.
Went to a conference on Tuesday. My red-headed co-worker was there, and we enjoyed each other's company. Lunch was really good. Wish I could say the same about the conference, but there was only one session that was really interesting. Oh well. It's hit or miss with those things. We finished up early. I had about 45 minutes before my dear son got off the bus at my school. I surely didn't want to go to school - so I went to the church nearby. They were having Adoration, so I enjoyed some peaceful prayer time and prayed the Seven Sorrows Rosary. Then I went and waited for the bus.
Wednesday I woke up with a sore throat. That made for a long week. Not sick enough to stay home, but not 100%, either. A couple of early nights helped, I think.
Got word during the week that our principal would be out for "at least a month." He is a good, decent guy who has helped to keep the forces of evil somewhat at bay. It could be a long month. Thank you to those who have prayed for him. Last we heard, they had found that one side of his heart was enlarged. He admitted that he was "scared."
Our Bible Study Wednesday night was about finding joy in trials and embracing the cross. It looks like I might get some more practice in that. I suppose it is a good thing, since that is how our faith is perfected. I still don't get real excited when trials come my way...when"real life" happens.
I am working with a small group of boys on their Ad Altare Dei religious award for Boy Scouts. We are just beginning our journey through the sacraments. One of the things that was suggested for baptism was for them to attend a baptism, so we did that today. (I thought it wasn't going to happen. After being planned nearly 2 months, I got an email from the secretary Thursday night asking that we not come, if it wasn't needed for awards being given out in a couple of weeks. It just didn't really make any sense to me, so I approached my dear pastor after Mass Friday morning. He looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. Something was clearly lost in translation somewhere along the line. Not sure where, but happily it all worked out.) It was kind of neat to watch it from the "outside". Neither of the children being baptized were too excited about having water poured over their head. Simple rituals, really, but with deep meaning. The water, the Sign of the Cross, the chrism, the candle.
After we got home from this outing, one of my offspring told me that his "hair hurt". To me that sounds flu-like, but maybe I am jumping to conclusions. He spent most of the rest of the day in bed, and appears to have some fever. He says his back and head hurt, and he has a runny nose, but no chills. Nonetheless, I called and got a script for Tami-flu. We shall see...
Meanwhile, my other child had to altar serve solo this evening. He has never served alone, so this was a new adventure for him, and he did fine!
I got an iPad for Christmas - finally joining the world of app users.
My "top three" Catholic apps....
iConfess is one that I had seen reviewed elsewhere. It has a good examination of conscience, and you are able to "flag" things that you want to confess. There is also a page to make notes. Prayers are included, as well as an "about confession" section, which seeks to answer some common questions about confession. While I was curious, I mostly bought this with the hopes my teens will use it. I have one teen who turns to me in panic and says "what do I say?" and another who (from what he has revealed to me) seems to confess any random item that pops into his head. (Once I followed him in confession, and as I entered my pastor just looked at me, and said, "I can just give you absolution right now!" - kidding of course.) I don't imagine I'll go strolling into confession any time soon with my iPad in the hot pink Otter Box, but I could see my teens taking in their iPad Touch- especially if they go on the screen side. iConfess also comes with a "master password" so that in theory someone with access to your iPad/iPod will not have access to whatever list of sins you've got going. However, I have not found the password to work consistently.
iBreviary is an app that I have used to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I sometimes go sit in a church before school. Sometimes in the early morning, there is very little ambient lighting, and I cannot read from my prayer book. I can, however read from my iPad. This app was free. I've had to delete it and download it a couple of times, but it seems to be working at this point. It also has the Mass readings for the day, and a blurb on the Saint of the Day.
My number one Catholic App is iPieta. It cost $2.99, and is - without a doubt - the best $3 I've ever spent. It has Latin and English versions of the Bible. It has just about every prayer ever written. It has the works of many of the Doctors of the Church and the Church Fathers. St. Catherine, St. Augustine, St. Jean Vianney, St. John of the Cross, the Rule of St. Benedict, In Imitation of Christ Papal Encyclicals - complete works - not just excerpts. Consecrations, blessings, novenas. A simply overwhelming amount of material. A whole shelf or two worth of books.
My current non-Catholic fave is another freebie called Color Effects. It makes a black and white from your photographs, and then lets you colorize the parts that you want to color. Very cool.
Have you joined the iPhone/iPad family? Got a favorite app? Word with friends, anyone?
It's that wonderful time of the week again! R'Ann at This That and the Other Thing, hosts a weekly meme for Catholic bloggers to share items from the previous week that might be of interest to other Catholic bloggers. Join the fun, if you like.
Things were busy this week, and there are only 2 blog entries.
the car is a walk down memory lane...a piece of family history
no words - don't get your hopes up! There were words for the post. ;-) A summary of the week. But for some situations, there are no words.
What a week it has been! I'm glad it started off with a holiday.
On Tuesday, the daughter of one of the sweetest people ever to work at my sons' school passed away. Pneumonia. A was 28, but had some physical disabilities, still lived at home, and was her parents' only child. She must have inherited her mom's sweet and gentle spirit. The wake was Friday night, and I went to the funeral home for the Rosary. I watched the video of pictures they had playing in the back. So many pictures. All with smiles. The second-to-last picture was A making a snow angel. And the last picture was the snow angel itself. There were no words to say to her parents. All I could do was offer a hug. Or two. Nothing can make it better.
I wish I could have gone to the funeral today. I heard that the good Monsignor did find the right words. He usually does. Parents should not have to bury their children. That is one of the most cruel things in this broken world that we live in.
On Wednesday, we started a Bible Study at church. I am so psyched about this. It is an 11 week study of the Book of James. James takes up 5 pages in my Bible. It is packed with "Pearls of Wisdom", it appears. The first one, "Count it all as joy, my brethren, for the testing of our faith produces steadfastness." Or something along those lines. That has partly contributed to the lack of blog posts. I've been busy with Bible Study homework. I have done a few of these before and I know two things - (1) If you do the homework, you get SO much more out of the course and (2) You cannot wait until the last minute to do the homework. Some of it takes prayer and reflection.
There was also a beautiful full moon on Wednesday. I attempted to take pictures of it. Varied results.
Thursday, I showed up at school to see an ambulance in the front. Certainly not an every day occurrence, but sadly, not that uncommon, either. I said a silent prayer, but did not feel the need to jump out of my car, run in, and see what was going on. Turns out it was our principal. He was out the previous week with "health issues" and apparently is still having "health issues". He had laid (layed/lain?) down on the floor of his office and couldn't get back up. He is my age - 40 something. But stress can kill ya, and his job is full of stress. So not worth it. The people that are heaping the stress on, will have you replaced inside of a week, and probably won't even bother to show up to your funeral. He is nice guy, a genuine good person.
Some of us had a chuckle over the note that was sent home to the students. "Mr. X was hospitalized today, but we don't feel that it is anything serious." Really? So why was he hospitalized? Was he faking? Or maybe I'm being nit-picky. I hope that it isn't serious. I hope that he is back at work very soon, because he is the anchor of sanity, the only check on some who want things run their way. But he needs to take care of himself first.
And that concludes this week of ups and downs. I hope that you didn't get too hopeful when you read the title and think that it meant that this post would have no words!
Twas a busy day. Went to Mass early, and then planned to meet a friend to work out. Those plans went out the window, when another friend who moved 7 hours away 3 or 4 years ago, called to say she was passing through town. Met her for donuts instead. Such is life.
Using our holiday wisely, we then paid a visit to my parents today, with nothing on the agenda other than visiting. No birthday. No egg hunt. No presents to open. (Well, maybe a couple of presents, since I was delivering a couple of late Christmas gifts...one that didn't make it on time and a couple of giftcards that got left behind Christmas Day.)
We had a pleasant afternoon and evening. We enjoyed the antics of my nephew/God child. Little kids are so much fun!
It was a nice day, so we spent some time outside. One of my kids tried the door handle on The Car and found that is was open...
The Car has always been there. Or for the past 40 years or so.
This is The Car that I went to kindergarten in. Back in 1969.
Prior to that time we had been a 1-car family.
But bus service wasn't provided for kindergartners, so the 1968 Dodge Polara joined our family.
It was a 2-door with a black interior. Can you say "hot"?
Robin's Egg Blue? Turquoise?
Probably more turquoise. You couldn't quite call it blue. Or green.
It was in the day before power windows.
Before they had head rests on the back of the seats.
It was a tank.
I learned to drive using it.
I drove it when I needed a car in college.
Not everyone can say they drove the same car in college that their mother used to deliver them to kindergarten.
It took LEADED gas.
We called it the Batmobile.
It was fun for "Chinese Fire Drills".
Do stupid young people still do that? Or is it too politically incorrect?
I retired it in 1986 when I graduated and bought a nice fuel efficient, Honda Accord Hatchback.
The last inspection sticker on it is from 1994.
Before my boys were born.
It has survived hurricanes and all matter of weather.
But the years have not been kind.
It has patiently waited for restoration, which will not come.
It's too late.
I tried taking a black and white picture.
Hoping it would hide some of its glaring imperfections.
It didn't really work.
So what's my point?
Just documenting a piece of family history/memorabilia/nostalgia.
Guess if I wanted to draw a spiritual connection, we could be thankful that we are never beyond restoration - no matter what the years hold for us, and how glaring our imperfections.
Once again, it's that time of the week...time for Sunday Snippets.... a weekly meme that R'Ann at This That and the Other Thing graciously hosts. A chance for Catholic bloggers to highlight their work from the week - that which might be of interest to other Catholic bloggers.
I had three posts this week:
winter blahs - the title kind of speaks for itself...sometimes it's an effort to write... this one is all over - from pole-dancing fifth graders to change-rolling husbands...it was probably a blessing that the battery on my laptop was dying ;-)
come as you are - features a song by the same title and a short "traffic nazi" vent
traffic nazis and God's touch - it's long...probably too long...but sometimes writing is how I think through things...it is pretty cool, though, how God finds us right where we are at and knows just the right thing to say...still trying to discern if I should just let this one go or say something to the administration of the school
Hope everyone has a wonderful week! I could take a little snow off of someone's hands...if anyone has extras...just a little. ;-)
I knew she would be waiting for me today. Just by the snarky comment/question I got last time I was there.
Backing up. My younger teen is in his final year at the Catholic elementary school he has attended since PreK. They have this thing about parental involvement, so one of the things that I do is to help in the car rider line a couple of mornings a week - getting the little bundles of joys out of carseats and helping with the backpacks that are bigger than they are. I enjoy it, and I enjoy visiting with the teachers who are in the section where I help out. I am there when it is 85 degrees and I have been there when it is 25 degrees, although I don't imagine the half hour or so that I spend there each week is going to amount to much in the grand scheme of things.
I approach from the opposite direction, drive up to the gate and then park on the side. Then I was told I must cross the car rider line. That I go the wrong way and then walk into the gate has really bothered the staff-member-in-charge-of-the-car-rider-line, but since I wasn't doing anything technically wrong, she really couldn't say anything. UNTIL I started crossing the line at point B instead of point A, as she had requested. In either case a vehicle usually stops for the 2.5 seconds it takes me to cross the line, and that causes her to comment about interfering with the traffic flow or the path that I choose to walk to get to the far end. Really petty and something I shouldn't have to justify. The safety of the children is never an issue
I appreciate the school that my child attends, but I have noticed that Catholic schools tend to be really big on Following the Rules. To the point that common sense, compassion, and reason are often lost. (Unfortunately, the only alternative around here seems to be the public schools like where I teach that are only a step away from the Wild, Wild West and no rules at all.)
So I knew she would be waiting today. I prayed at Mass this morning that God would give me the words to say. I hate verbal confrontations, but after the past several months of being bullied at work, I'm quite tired of that, too. They double-teamed me today. But it was OK. Some words were exchanged. Something about how as a teacher, I should realize how important it is to Follow The Rules. (I also realize how important it is to be flexible and go with the flow.) And why did I think that I didn't need to do the same thing that all the other parents did? Ummm, that would be because I'm out here unloading their children out of their cars in all kinds of weather. Well, All The Other Parents Follow The Rules. It was a pretty short conversation. You know what, it sounds like All The Other Parents can handle it, I have better things to do on a cold morning, and you really don't want my help. Oh, sure we do. They don't. If they valued the little bit I do, they would be pleasant and say "good morning" instead of looking for petty things to be upset about. I returned to my car (probably impeding the sacred traffic flow again) and drove away at a moderate rate of speed.
Would it be uncharitable of me to note that these staff members aren't administrators or teachers or classroom personnel? They are parents who were there so much that they finally gave them a title, some responsibilities, and a pay check. And would it be wrong to note that most mornings that I am there, I do not see any other parents, and I wasn't really aware that there was a preferred parking procedure for parent volunteers?? And if I mentioned that most mornings the Principal and Assistant are also out there and have never uttered a word to me about where I park, cross, or walk?
So I drove down the street to the church where I sometimes go before school. It was a better alternative than sitting in the cold car in the school parking lot. I pray the Liturgy of the Hours with some regularity, and today that is what called to me. For those who are not familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer generally consists of an introductory Psalm, 2 other Psalms, the Canticle of Zechariah,another Canticle, a short reading from scripture, petitions, and a couple of other elements.
After an encounter such as I had above, my impulse would be to analyze these people, what is wrong with them and their lives to explain their behavior, and make sure that as many people as possible heard my tale of woe (maybe I am doing that here - but none of you know these people).
But that is not what I wanted to be about. I began to pray....
Lord, open my lips. --And my mouth will proclaim your praise. OK - I say that every day - the first words of the LOH, but I'll have to really be conscious of what my mouth proclaims today.
...they challenged me and provoked me.... (Psalm 95) That's God speaking. So He knows the feeling.
Psalm 51 is a staple on Fridays. Give me again the joy of your help...O rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.... I'm listening God.
I prayed through the next Psalm and Canticle. Reassured that God is there seeing the bigger picture. Faithful. Merciful. Caring for us.
Then I hit the scripture reading. I read the first line and had to stop and marvel at God's sense of humor. I almost laughed out loud.
Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them. Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit....Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice...be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ. (Eph 4:29-32) I am familiar with this passage. Got part of the first verse as advice in confession once, and I liked it so much, I googled it to find "the rest of the story".
Could anyone have hand-picked a better reading for my day??
Following came a verse: Make known to me the path that I must walk. Apparently it isn't the path of unloading cars before school in the morning. Not unloading cars will give me time for a half hour or more of prayer twice a week. Perhaps that is time better spent?
Then came the intentions. It was as if God just kept thinking of one more thing to tell me.
Christ, Rising Sun, warm us with your rays --and restrain us from every evil impulse.
Keep guard over our thoughts, words, and actions, --and make us pleasing in your sight this day.
Even the Concluding Prayer. ...you conquer the darkness of ignorance....Strengthen within our hearts the faith you have given us; let not temptation ever quench the fire that your love has kindled with us.....
I left that church with so much peace and joy. I had a great day. Did I win or lose? I didn't change anyone's mind. I didn't prevail. But I did stand up for myself. And I did not let a stupid situation ruin any more of my day. Draw close to God, and you can't lose!
Sometimes - often - when I get to school and park in the parking lot, I sit for a while in my car, using the time before I actually have to sign-in for prayer. It is seldom that I am disturbed there. On occasion, I have gotten the "what were you doing in your car this morning" question, and I have replied, "Praying. We need all the prayer we can get here." And they agree and I suppose they don't think I'm too weird.
Lately, I've taken to letting the radio continue to play, turning it down low for some background music. Yesterday, this song just reached out through the radio and grabbed me. I'm not sure why. You must know that never happens to me. OK - rarely happens. I put down my prayer book, turned it up, and just listened.
When I got home, the first thing I did was to download it from iTunes.
Our canceled faculty meeting was uncanceled. Oh well. Can't win 'em all. Our principal is out for the rest of the week. Health issues. Stress can kill ya. We had outdoor recess today, but I think it was too cold for much pole-dancing.
There is a traffic nazi at my child's school. If she says something to me [again] on Friday about where and how I cross the line of traffic when I help unload the car-rider line, it might not be pretty. I am about the most non-confrontational person in the world, but..... There is more than one way to cross a car-rider line. There are more important things in the world. I am 46 years old, and I think I am old enough to figure this out without her help. If you want parent involvement - like you say you do - then quit hassling the involved parents about petty crap! I have better things to do on cold winter mornings.
It seems a shame to let days and days pass without a post, but there just seems nothing to write about.
It is cold, but not snowy. No beautiful snow pictures to post. Haven't seen the first flake this year.
Actually, no pictures of any kind. I don't think I've taken a picture since New Year's Eve.
The Saints lost their play-off game. :-(
We undecorated the church last Saturday. I went to confession. Not at the same time we were rearranging stuff in the attic and stowing nativity figures in the closet. Later. Although it was a little strange to open the door to the confessional... "Hi, it's me again..." There are so many graces there. But I touched on that last week. He is a wonderful confessor. There was humor, but there was also a serious conversation. He is a wonderful conduit of the Holy Spirit.
Dear husband is making himself busy rolling our spare change. And making me crazy as he rummages around for "six more nickels". Must be a really slow night on television.
School is alright. I emailed my principal this past weekend. I have recess duty with the fifth graders. Usually pretty low-stress, but last week the girls found a new use for the tether ball poles that no longer have tether balls attached. I'm not sure pole-dancing is one of those "life-long skills" we are endeavoring to teach. I asked if there was money in the budget for tether balls. I didn't hear back from him, and he hasn't been at school this week. Probably has the winter blahs. But on the bright side, our faculty meeting this week is canceled.
My younger child had detention today. First one this school year, so not doing too badly. He was actually kind of bummed this time, although several of his friends were also there this morning.
With him being at school so early, it gave me a chance to attend Mass at a different church - the one that burned last spring. Please pray for their pastor - Fr. H. I am not sure what is wrong, but he has not been himself the past month (or more). He is distracted and seems to be in physical pain. Could be the stress of the rebuilding. Could be something altogether different. He is a wonderful priest, and he has been on my mind all day.
The battery of my laptop is about out, so that means it's time to end this post.
Confession must be one of my favorite topics to write about, judging from the tags on the side of this blog.
Once upon a time, I had been away from this sacrament for many years and had quite a list that needed to be dealt with. I was like a fish on a hook; caught, but trying valiantly to escape. I scoured the internet looking for a loophole that was going to let me out of confession. But in that vast universe of information, I didn't find a single "out". Not even email confession. And in all of that looking and searching, I read. Reading other people's experiences was comforting to me. I could see that they went in and survived and lived to tell their story. Eventually I found the courage to go, and that was a life-changing experience for me. So maybe that is why I write so frequently about it.
In music, a grace note is a note added in. It's not part of the main melody - just kind of an embellishment. Often I find that in confession. Something that is not part of confession/absolution formula, but something that makes the experience that much better.
When I was thinking about this post (it's been in the thinking stage for a while) I was thinking that this mostly happens with my current confessor. But that's not true. The reason I recognize it now is the frequency with which it happens. When you are on the once-maybe-twice-a-year confession schedule, you don't have much to compare it to. When you are going every month or so, you are better acquainted with this grace. I think that I am not exaggerating too much if I say that I went to confession more in the past year than I did in all of my 20's and 30's combined.
There was a time in my 20's, when a relationship that I had invested three years in had ended, made worse by the fact that the guy I had been dating had found a new relationship with one of my old friends. A few months after the break-up, still mourning, I went on a retreat. One of our priests from the Catholic student center came to hear confessions. I don't remember exactly what I confessed, but I remember him asking, "If these people were really your friends, would they have treated you like this?" So simple, so obvious, and so what I needed to hear. It changed the whole way I was looking at things, and then healing was able to begin. A grace note.
That was probably my last good confession until I was in my 30's. I went to confession every year or so for a lot of years, but I thought you could just confess the sins you were willing to stop, and just keep going with the other ones. Not so, folks! Not surprisingly, there wasn't much grace in those. Then I got to that fish-on-a-hook stage that I mentioned above. When I finally found the courage and humility to walk into a church and lay everything at the Lord's feet in a confessional one cold, Advent afternoon, the graces just rained down. It was the most amazing thing. One thing that could only have come from God - resentments that I had held for years were erased from memory.(and I didn't confess anything to do with resentments) Like someone had taken one of those flashy-thingies from Men In Black and just erased them. And there was more - some of it still too personal to go into - but God was very generous.
Sometimes, there have been little annoying things that I have been powerless to stop. One thing in particular, was being late for daily Mass. I know that there is no obligation to attend daily Mass, so who knows if being late for something you don't have to attend is a sin? But I was habitually arriving a minute or two or three after Mass started. And when Mass only lasts 25 minutes - every minute really does count. Besides, it is distracting to others and I had no good reason for being late. Jesus deserved better. Finally, I confessed it. That was over a year ago, maybe two, and I have not had to confess it again. Grace? You bet!
I could go on. I have so many examples. But I'll end here. Maybe I'll revisit this another time, if it's something other people care to read.
My bottom line - God is waiting for you there. GO!
9-25-11 Editting to add the picture...(the post looked lonesome in the sidebar with no picture) I got the picture in an email. I don't know who the artist is, but it is beautiful. Also...if this post spoke to you, there is another similar post here.
The nice 2 week vacation was lovely. Not too restful, but enjoyable. I enjoyed sleeping a little later, the possibility of taking a nap and time to drink coffee, eat lunch, and visit with friends.
But now I'm back in the "real world". That's part of the reason there hasn't been a blog post all week.
0ne night, I logged on, and opened up the page, but I got side-tracked and then fell asleep before I could post anything.
It wasn't too, too bad going back to school. It was time, I suppose. One day closer to the end!
Early in the week, I could have done a commercial for Mucinex, but I'm feeling pretty normal now.
In the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, in a sleep induced fog, I remember being glad that it was Saturday. I was so disappointed when I realized it was *only* Wednesday. Maybe it had something to do with the weather that came through and the Golden Retriever that is terrified of thunder. I finally got up around 4, and laid down on the couch. She jumped on top of me, and was happy as a clam.
Monday was a day for wearing gloves and scarves. On Wednesday, my high schooler comfortably wore shorts to school. Go figure.
My dear husband called me from the road one night. He said that his lips were numb and he was having trouble closing one eye, and could I look up these symptoms on the internet? Sounded a little stroke-like to me, and the symptoms sort of fit. All of the stroke info had something along the lines of "seek medical help immediately". But not my dear hubby. He wasn't messing with that before morning . The next day, he actually asked me, if he should wait until I got home from school to go to the doctor. Ummm ....No! What part of "immediately" don't you get?
I convinced him to go to our family practice doctor, and he diagnosed the symptom's as Bell's Palsy. A paralysis of one side of the face, which should resolve itself. A few prayers of thanks were uttered for that one!
A for me now - I'm sitting here with my laptop, taking occasional breaks to "rest my eyes".
How's that for a "stream of consciousness" post? Sometimes the brain just can't do much more than that!
It's that time again. Each week, R'Ann at This That and the Other Thing hosts a meme for Catholic bloggers to share items which might be of interest to other Catholic folks - bloggers and non-bloggers, I suppose.
It's been two weeks since we've shared, and it's been a busy two weeks for me - blog-wise. (Of course what interests me and what interests others....well...) It's hard to choose. Maybe I'll just put out what there is to choose from and leave it to you to pick what looks good. Kind of like a buffet. :-)
God of the impossible - reflections from the last week of advent homily. Joseph. Surrender. Impossible situations. Engraved as a wound in the heart of Jesus.
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."