Sunday, November 27, 2011

lost in translation?

I confess, I am a liturgical geek.  So here are my musings, as such...

Thursday, at Thanksgiving Mass, I knew that would be the last time I would hear that particular translation of the Mass.  No big fanfare.

Friday morning, we replaced the missalettes at our parish, as we do every so often, usually coinciding with a change in liturgical seasons.  But this time was special.  This time, there were pew cards, too!  The Ladies' Altar Society was in charge of changing the missalettes (and I showed up, along with a Boy Scout and his family because none of the ladies can lift the full boxes once the old missalettes are packed up).  But our pastor had charged our sacristan with putting the pew cards in the pews.  He guarded that duty with great care!  After the ladies had all left, he and I chatted for a bit.  I offered to help him with the cards - he suffers with arthritis and various other ailments - but he declined.  I was stepping into my car, about to leave him to his task, when he reconsidered, "Would you mind helping me?"  Not at all. 

I was ready for Mass on Saturday evening a full hour ahead of time.  I wanted to be there for the unveiling of this new translation, for sure!  History in the making!  You could feel the excitement!

The "pew cards" contain a condensed version of the new translation of the Mass, so that you are not stuck flipping through the missalette.  This is the first real change in about 40 years.  "Translation Sunday", our cantor called it.  I thought he had the best line of the evening when he was reviewing some of the musical changes with us..."The words to the Great Amen have not's still 'amen.'"  Well, thank goodness for small favors, I suppose.

It was a little overwhelming with both new music and the new translation.  Even though Father reminded everyone before he began Mass that "and also with you" would now be "and with your spirit," 20 seconds later, when he said "Peace be with you," the replies were about 50/50  "and also with you/ and with your spirit."  It is just so automatic for most of us. By the end of the Mass, you were thinking about every word before you spoke it...."Amen is still amen?  The Our didn't change, did it?  Lord hear our prayer?...still good?"  This morning, at the end of Mass, Father said to "Go in Peace," and some people questioningly mumbled, "Thanks be to God." 

Our good monsignor, who has really down-played the whole new translation thing, said that he hadn't been this nervous for his first Mass.  But all, in all, it went pretty well for a first time, and it will get better each week.   I put a shout-out on my facebook page to all my Catholic friends and family "on leave" from the church.  Come back now, and you will be as lost as everyone else!  Really, a limited-time opportunity.

I like the new sound of the prayers.  Like a well seasoned dish, rather than a plain piece of bread.  They have made it even more beautiful!

Because I am a liturgical geek, I noticed a couple of months ago, that our pastor had tweaked ever so slightly the part of Mass where he said "This is the Lamb of God...."  He began to end it with the same ending as the new translation.  Last night, I realized why...the server clears the Missal from the altar during the Sign of Peace, so our priest says that part from memory.  All he needed to do last night was to add the beginning.

I noticed another something and that was as he prepared the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer.  From atop the chalice (?) he took a cloth (the corporal?) and unfolded it, spreading it on the altar before beginning his prayer.  Not sure if that was a universal change, or just an option he decided to exercise.

 And...last but not least our altar servers had new albs after a gazillion years of the old ones!! 

Happy New Year to my Catholic friends!  May your Advent find you waiting at the door of your heart...ready to open with the Lord knocks!

Friday, November 25, 2011


Oh, the variety we have for prayers.  Sometimes it is almost overwhelming.

The way I pray is something that I've been thinking about...perhaps praying my quiet times the past week or two.

Earlier this year, I think it was around Lent or Easter, I remember telling my confessor that prayer had become a lot less structured for me.  For several years I had prayed Morning Prayer and/or Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, but at this point, it had just become something to "get through", something to check off of the "to-do" list.  He had told me that it was fine for prayer to take on a less-structured form, but to "keep listening" because it might well be that I would find myself looking for more structured again in the future. 

And sure enough....I'm there.  There is just SO much - like 2000 years worth - of prayers to choose from.  There is the Rosary and Scripture.  The Divine Mercy Chaplet.  And the Liturgy of the Hours.  Prayers from various Saints that speak to the soul.  It's an endless all-you-can-pray buffet.

To add in to my thoughts, I ran across something a few weeks ago... The Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic People.  Before I read it I thought to myself, "well, I ought to have at least 3 or 4 of these down."  Uh, not.  Briefly, they are:  the morning offering, 15 minutes of silent prayer, 15 minutes of spiritual reading, daily Mass, praying the Angelus at noon, the Rosary, and an examination of conscience every night.  I can claim about 2 of those - Mass and silent prayer - on a nearly daily basis.  Sometimes during my time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I fit in some spiritual reading or part of the Rosary.  (Does anyone else seem to be able to only finish 3/5 of the Rosary?) And almost always before I leave, I say an Act of Contrition.

And so my quest continues for something with more structure.  I had kind of hoped to start it along with the beginning of Advent.  Tomorrow evening begins the new Liturgical year.  All of us American Catholics will be met with a different translation of the prayers we say at Mass and our parish will roll out beautiful new albs for our altar servers (the old ones had definitely seen better days).  It's a time for new things.

So, just kind of wondering, what does your prayer look like?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The other morning, before school, I was doing some reflecting.  In his homily that morning, the good priest had mentioned that one of his favorite penances to give is for the penitent to spend time thinking of the ways that God shows His great love to them.  Ways that the Kingdom of God is present in our lives.  Surely I've gotten some variation of that a time or two, and it seemed like a good starting place for mediation that particular morning.

Eucharist literally means thanksgiving.  And since all that we are and have comes from and through is what came to mind that morning.... 

The ways God shows His great love to me:
(very creative title, right?)

In his forgiveness.
(I guess the mention of this being a favorite penance had forgiveness right there on the top of my head.)

In the Eucharist.

In the people he gives to me as family.

In the coolness of the morning.

In the beauty of my house.

In the quiet stillness of this church.

In the patience and kindness of the people whom I work with.

In the students that he sends me to teach.  All of them sent for a reason.

 In the trials He sends that lead me to Him.

In His dying and rising to save me.

In the small moments He sends when things go just about right.

In the wonderful priests He has sent to our parish.

In His word, when whatever question I had is beautifully answered.

In those who suffer with surrender.

We have much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope your day is wonderful!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

heart smiles

Thankful for some things that have made my heart smile this week...

Friday during the sixth grade recess, I was handing out the balls.  A girl ran up and claimed the last ball - a football.  A boy nearby looked a little sad.  She looked at him, and asked, "You wanted it?"  He nodded.  She thought for a minute, tossed him the ball, and then went on her merry way calling back to him, "Lucky for you, my last name's CARE-ington  (Carrington)."  I had to laugh, but it was really a kindness that we see so rarely these days. 

I sent one of my offspring to the freezer before we left yesterday morning, to get a package of chicken breasts out, so that maybe they would thaw before evening, and I could use them to create something for supper.  He came back with a ziploc bag of deer sausage that some dear (no pun intended) person had gifted us with last Christmas.  I sent him back for the chicken, but he also put the sausage in the fridge to thaw.  That evening, the chicken was still frozen (I think they were secretly glad), and they decided they wanted to cook the sausage outside on the pit.  They sent me to the store for hotdog/po-boy buns, and they handled the rest - lighting the charcoal and cooking.  It was fantastic! They are growing least they will be able to feed themselves, especially if meat is the only food group required.

Tuesday morning, I had time to spare before Mass.  Sometimes I just get to the church early and just sit, but this church is very "busy" before Mass - at least on Tuesdays.  They say the Rosary and then the Our Lady of Perpetual Help devotion.  Then the sacristan and her two grown daughters who seem to be a little special, go  about fussing and fixing everything on the altar.  It is really a little much sometimes.  So this particular day, I went to the Adoration Chapel near my house.  I hadn't been there since the summer, because there is a school on the same campus, and I was afraid of getting caught in their before school traffic.  It was SO wonderful.  At 6:30 a.m., there was fog and the whole place was quiet.  Except for the crow overhead.  The school has nuns, and there were sisters praying in and exiting the chapel when I got there.  What a lovely half hour or so that was!

A co-worker of mine lost her sister a couple of weeks ago.  There have been times when this co-worker and I were not on the friendliest of terms, though things are pretty smooth right now.  A third sister attends my church.  I wasn't able to go to the wake or the funeral, so I bought a card and had a Mass said for this past Thursday.  When I walked into church Thursday morning, I saw my co-worker and her sister across the way.  That made my heart smile. 

Does God ever show you something over and over...kind of hammering home the point?  Last time I went to confession, one of the things that stuck with me from the advice was that of seeking God.  Something I've known, but have kind of forgotten or gotten lazy about.  The whole next week, the entrance psalm of Mass was, "Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.  SEEK the Lord and his strength, SEEK always the face of the Lord.  OK, God, I hear you.  Then, a week or so later, there was the homily on St. Martin de Tours that ended with an exhortation about seeking and surrendering to God.  Then, Tuesday, the Gospel about Zaccheaus in the tree.  The priest pointed out that the most important, but often overlooked phrase in that Gospel is, "...and he was SEEKING to see Jesus."  Lord, I seek.  And I find.

Got one more minute?  I got a long email from my BFF Monday evening.  How I love long emails! 

All in all, a good week.  One in which small blessings added up in a powerful way!

Thank you, Lord, for all of the blessings that you send our way.  
Help us to recognize them and remind us to be grateful - always.

Have a great Thanksgiving week!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

seven for sunday

How about some quick takes?  Which I can never do because I like to talk too much.  And Sunday is probably the wrong day...but oh well.

1.  We have lemons, yes we do!  We have lemons, how about you??  I know you're supposed to make lemonade when life gives you lemons, but really?  I'm looking for some other recipes at this point.  Some that need lots and lots of lemon juice.  We have given some away.  I dropped off a bag of various fruits for my pastor, and he begged for a fruit moratorium.  Apparently, we are not the only ones with fruit to share.  

2.  I always said my dream home would have a fireplace!  I am in my dream home!  It still doesn't seem real...I really never thought it would happen this side of heaven.  We lit the fireplace for the first time the other night.  Was a little under-whelmed by the heat produced.  But it was pretty.  It is a gas burner...kind of missed the crackle and smell of wood.  But I'm not complaining.  No, I am not!

3.  It's a full moon week!  If you think it doesn't influence behavior, then you are not a middle school teacher.  Throw in a cold front, and it's really a fun time!  Our assistant principal has been out for two weeks due to a death in the family and our principal was out all of last week.  Think things haven't been insane on our campus?

4.  Do tell me...why must a single oak tree have a whole forest worth of acorns?  These are what was swept up from around the pool and fished out of the pool.  We won't even talk about what has been swept off of the driveway.  And it's not done yet!  One rolled off the roof and nearly bounced in my coffee yesterday morning!

5.  And then there are the leaves.  These are from the neighbor's tree.  Kind of pretty, actually.  But my kids have a new chore.  It's called leaf-duty.  Apparently swimming pool maintenance is a year-round thing.

6.  A view of the front lawn from my open window...almost at ground level.  I love living in a house where I can open the windows!  The weather was beautiful today!

7.  This is a tree in a yard at the front of the subdivision.  I have been admiring it all week.  Finally this afternoon, I took my camera and walked the dog down that way.  I tried to avoid looking like a stalker while I snapped a few pictures of the tree.  I think the colors are beautiful.  I have no idea what it is called.

And there you have it!  Seven is the number of completion and perfection - according to our Bible Study on Revelations.  So I suppose this post is perfectly completed!

Friday, November 11, 2011

seek and surrender

Today's homily was mostly about St. Martin de Tours, who's feast day it is today.  My first thought was "didn't we just have him last week?"  But after the early morning fog cleared away, I realized that it was St. Martin de Porres that we had last week (or the week before).   I listened intently to the homily.... there were a few tie-ins to today's scriptures about wisdom and living with the end (heaven) in mind.  But really caught my attention were two words in the last sentence about St. Martin seeking God, but also being available to and surrendering to God.  My friend who was sitting next to me didn't hear them at all.  The working of the Holy Spirit that a church full of people can listen to the same homily, but different things touch different people in different ways.

I have been doing a bit of thinking about seeking and surrendering since my last confession.  It is not enough to just show up waving a white flag of surrender.  (And how difficult it is to truly surrender!)  As we surrender, we must also continue to seek God through prayer, through scripture, through reading.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  I love how God connects the dots to make a picture!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

kid stuff

Any of you mothers ever worry about your kids?  Surely I'm not alone! 

I'm not a worrier...worrying is the opposite of trust... but when it comes to my kids...all bets are off.

The homily last Sunday explained that the wise virgins didn't share their oil with the foolish virgins because some things just can't be borrowed or shared or bought or stolen.  Our relationship with Jesus is one of those things.  When we stand before Jesus, we want Him to know us.  "I do not know you" is Bible language for "I don't have a relationship with you."  A relationship entails more than going through the motions for an hour on Sunday morning (or evening.)

Of all the things that I would want to give to my children, this would be at the top of the list....a relationship with the Lord Jesus.  And yet, I can't give it.  I can't teach it.  I can't demand it or insist upon it.  They have to want it, to pursue it, and develop it in their own way.

I see the other influences in their lives - the music, friends, television, movies - and I wonder, I worry.

I have tried to do everything right.  Catholic School, CCD, Mass attendance on Sundays, an Advent Wreath during Advent, Stations of the Cross during Lent, confession more than once or twice a year.  They went to a Catholic mission-type camp last summer.  But all those things and more don't equal a relationship.  Because a relationship comes from within, comes from shared experiences and conversations.  Prayer.

No answers here tonight.   Just thinking out loud.   Wondering how to make Jesus real.  Wondering how to encourage a relationship.  There is nothing worse than watching your child struggle and try to find their own way.   The outcome maybe worth it, but the work in progress...arghhh.  I so miss the days when everything could be fixed by a kiss or a band-aid.

Last night we prayed the Seven Sorrows sister-in-law, mother-in-law and a couple of friends.  What strikes me every time we pray it, is how Mary's life was far from perfect - even though she was without sin and had a child without sin.  How often she must have wondered if God knew what He was doing, how difficult it must have been to trust. And yet she did.  There is such a sense of peace that comes from that Rosary.  Even though I can't see the final outcome...I don't know how its all going to work out, I can hope, I can pray, and I can know that the Blessed Mother is there with me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

in the blink of an eye

One of my 7th grade students who has a visual impairment uses a device that resembles a computer monitor with a camera attached to it to help her see things like the board or the paper or calculator she is working with.  It has truly opened up a new world for her this year, and she told me today, "I LOVE that machine!" 

It is a bulky little thing, with its own rolling suitcase that she hauls from class to class.  In each class, it must be taken out of the case, put on her desk, and plugged in.  The process is reversed at the end of each class.  Today, I was standing in the back of the room as math class wrapped up.  I looked over to see THREE other 7th graders clamoring to help her.  One reached over to turn off the power, another unplugged it from the power strip, and a third lifted it off of her desk into the bag. 

And in a split second, the moment was gone.  Sometimes, though, those are the things that make it worthwhile!

Friday, November 4, 2011

connecting the dots

It has been a week!

A pretty good one with my fifth graders.  I don't know why. 

Our Curves didn't close.  Rumor (grounded in fact) had said that they would close on Monday (Oct 31).   I didn't go last Friday because I was in the twilight zone of a high school lockdown.  On Monday, our Mass schedule was rearranged, which meant that my routine was out of sync, so I didn't even go for the "last" day.  On Tuesday, though, after dropping my kids off at school after attending Mass for All Saints Day, I decided to pass by Curves and see what had transpired.  I was surprised to see the lights on.  And people inside.  I hadn't planned to work out - just to be nosey, so I sat in the car for a minute before I decided just to stick my head in to say "hi".  There was a sign on the window that said, "Curves Ladies, your prayers have been answered."  And inside I got to meet the new owner...the angel.  She was a former member who - at some point in the last couple of weeks - had come to sign back up.  When she was told what was happening, she decided to buy the business.  My pastor is fond of saying that there are no coincidences in God.

The kids got haircuts last week.  My rock-star wannabe child had to cut off his Slash-like curls in order to try out for the wrestling team at school. 

The hair on the floor when they were done looked something like a poodle.  Regrettably, I don't have an after picture of him....yet.

And then there was the one who wanted "hair surgery".  In the last few years, his very thick hair has become very coarse with curls underneath.  It is just a mess - a "poof".  Nothing much can be done with it.   Mine also has a coarser, frizzy texture - especially as it is getting grayer, and last time I had it cut, my stylist told me about a new Keratin treatment that had good results on hair like ours.  It was a little pricey for me, and my life doesn't revolve around having "good hair", but for my dear teenager, life is ALL about the looks.  So he has been begging for this "hair surgery" ever since I told him about it. 

Part of the treatment involved straightening his hair.  (It didn't stay straight after he washed it, and I'm not sure how well the treatment actually worked...)  But here he was with "normal" hair for a couple of days. 

Saturday morning found us doing the church parking lot painting gig again.  We knocked it out in a couple of hours.  The weather was a little chilly, but I do think it was better than the hot June morning that we picked last time. 

Have I mentioned that our dog likes citrus fruits?  Especially the oranges and satsumas?  

Oh - and about connecting the dots.  My fifth graders drive me absolutely out of my mind this year.  They do not want to do a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g.  Sometimes copying the answers (yes...COPYING the answers) is just too much effort for them to undertake.  And show up at school with a pencil?  Oh my gosh...that is *really* asking too much. 

Lately during my prayer times - my time alone in the Lord's Presence - I haven't really "felt" much of anything.  I "know" that He is still there.  I'm pretty sure He's awake.  But other than that intellectual knowing, there's not much right now.  We discussed this a bit last time I went to confession, and I got some good feedback - reassurance that it is normal - that it happens when God wants to draw forth something from us...when He wants us to seek Him. 

So this week, I have thought more about actually "seeking".  That's an active thing - seeking.  And it occurs to me that sometimes in my spiritual life I am like my fifth graders.  I show up.  I am there.  But beyond that, I find myself sitting back and saying to God, "You do it.  Go ahead.  I'm just going to sit here while you do your thing!"  I wonder if He looks at me like I look at my fifth graders and thinks, "You are just sucking the life out of me?" as I do with them sometimes.

Which leads me to my next [unanswered] question.  I know that "surrender" is almost synonymous with "faith".  But what, exactly, is the difference between "surrender" and "laziness"?

And last, but not least,  one person who embodies the difference between surrender and laziness is one of the moms from my children's elementary school.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer about 2.5 years ago, just before her 40th birthday.  She has already outlived expectations, but the news is not good.  Last summer, lesions were found on her brain and treated with radiation.  Last week, scans showed that the radiation had not helped.  That was the last treatment.  She asks for prayers for her children (ages 8, 13, and 16) and for her parents.