Sunday, November 29, 2015

Magic Words

Last week, two of my tweens had the day off on a day my teenagers didn't.  We stayed up late playing a card game and my sixteen year old took umbrage at our late night laughter. He slammed the door and shouted down at us several times.  We started whispering.  He stomped in his room to let us know, even this was unacceptable.  We'd just finished so we said good night and shut down the room.

The next morning, as I climbed the stairs to wake him, I wondered, how to address his anger, to help him learn a better way than to yell "Shut up." at his family.   Rubbing his feet to wake him, his first words were, "I'm sorry."  He sank into the foot rub and smiled.

"Maybe, instead of "Shut up!" which doesn't get you what you want most times it's used, you could yell "Foot RUB!"

"FOOT RUB!" he shouted.

I rubbed his feet. He grinned. "See, it worked much better."

I got up to leave.

"FOOT RUB!"

I came back and crunched his toes.  "I need to make the lunches." He smiled and stretched.

"Foot rub?"

One more time.  
"You should apologize to your brother and sister."
"I will."

We'll see what happens the next time we're up late playing cards and he wants to sleep.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pie is Infinite

This Thanksgiving, we had 8 pies at the table.   Pie reigned supreme and as we ate, we discovered the ten stages of the Life of Pie.

10) First slice: Pie! Awesome.  I'll take a slice.  Hold the whipped cream, I don't want to go overboard.

9) Second slice: Well, my last piece was kinda small and it was pumpkin. This is pecan....Where's the ice cream?

8) Third slice:  I've already blown the diet.  I haven't tried the apple so...this time hit me up some with whip and some ice cream.

7) I can't move....it hurts.  "There's a little bit of whiskey pecan left.  Want to split it?"
....hmmmm......sure!

6) Pie.  It's what's for breakfast.   New day.  New pie capacity.

5) I'm not full yet.   Is there any pumpkin left?  There's just a sliver in the blueberry so I'll add that one too.  It's too small to count as a serving.

4) Okay, I'm not eating any more pie and I'm hitting the gym this afternoon.  I will instead feast on other leftovers.   Cranberry stuffing turkey gravy sandwich has more calories than pie.   I will just eat a slice of pie.

3) I went for a walk. Huzzah! I'm healthier than everyone else enduring a turkey coma.   I will celebrate by feasting on a slice of the roasted apple! No one has yet touched that pie.

2) Don't mention pie. I'm not interested.  I don't want any.  You can't possibly tempt me.  "Hey look, our neighbors just brought us a fresh pumpkin pie.   ...Deal me in.

1) We have eaten an infinite amount of pie.   It will take an infinite amount of time to work this off.
"Well, pie is an infinite number."


Monday, November 23, 2015

Are You Ready for the Year of Mercy?

When we had the year of the Rosary, (2002-2003), everyone pretty much knew what to do. Pray the rosary. Learn the mysteries.  Contemplate the role of Mary as model for our spiritual life.

When we had the year of the Eucharist (2004-2005), again, most people could figure out...go, receive the Eucharist, contemplate Christ's incarnation, go to adoration, recognize that the bread and wine are not mere bread and wine, be awake to the graces and great gift we've been given in receiving our Lord into our own selves.

In 2012, when we celebrated the Year of Faith, I made a a list.  I know, I often make lists, but it's a useful tool and so it's how I roll.

This is the year of Mercy.

What do you do for a year to contemplate God's mercy?


1) Study the scripture.  "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Matthew 9:13.   God wants us home. That's His whole plan in a nutshell, to love us and lavish us with grace until we drop our nets and begin the walk to our father's house.  One great source I've been enjoying this year is My Catholic Daily Bible.  I have it on my kindle, and read while I work out at the gym.

2) Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  There's a great song version here, but I find my mind wanders when I just listen so I use the Laudate app which has an interactive rosary component.   I also have Saint Faustina's Diary.  If you get it, it's a pretty thick book so it will take you through the whole year.

3) Give alms.  Charity of the body mirrors charity of the heart.  Today's gospel talks about the widow's mite.   Giving of yourself requires a sublimation of spirit, of want, in favor of the other.  Perhaps this year, resolve to do with less, and to give more.  Build to 10% by starting this month, December, by giving 1%...then 2% in February, and let the Holy Spirit lead you on.

4) Fasting.  Part of mercy is seeking to repair the wounds of the world caused by sin.  Mercy, forgiveness and grace are the balms for those wounds.  Fasting is a form of prayer, with a mindful intent toward begging for particular graces of healing.

5) Confession  You knew this was part of the Year of Mercy. The whole reason we need a Year of Mercy is, we need mercy.  The sacrament is one of mercy.  None of us deserve Heaven.  None of us deserve God's love.  We get it gratis, without tags or cost.  But that just means, we should be all the more grateful for a King that wants to wipe out all our debt.  Run to Him.

Here's a great talk on the sacrament of Reconciliation and an equally excellent one on Forgiveness.

I won't be blogging this week much --getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Have a blessed week.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Small Success Thursday

Every Thursday except last week when I spaced, you can find me over at...



Today, we talk about stopping time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Be Part of the Mercy

Nothing makes the idea of praying for your enemy seem more absurd than recognizing, you have an enemy.   Watching the attacks unfold in Paris, it's hard not to want to find the people responsible, and give them what they've given.  

But if we want a world that is not burning with rage, we will have to be better than that. I read Cardinal Parolin's talk about going on the Spiritual Offense with Mercy.  I thought, that is the best way to battle the incivility of the age.   This doesn't mean being syrupy or saccharine or a doormat.  Mercy is at its core, a radical muscular decision to turn the other cheek. It is Christ on the Cross saying, "Father, forgive them."

So I hope no government will change their political policy toward the oppressed and afflicted because some people who share a religion in name, but not in practice, tried to make the world burn.

 If you want to know how to engage in spiritual battle against the type of thinking that imagines and enacts such evil acts as took place last week in France and Beruit on the 12th, and in other places, I recommend Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble's article on the subject.

Knowing a few people in Paris, I sent an email when the attack first happened.  My contact wrote back how grateful she was for the show of support from around the world for the people of Paris, and how it heartened her on a dark day when it seemed, humanity favored letting the world burn.  Little gestures matter.  It is an incarnational reality of being human.  We understand when someone loves us by their words and their actions.  It means something to my son to see his siblings cheering as he runs.  They can't make him run one second faster. They can do nothing to affect the outcome of his efforts, except to encourage.   It still matters.

So pray, fast, give alms, welcome a refugee if you have the courage and the means..  When a great evil is inflicted on the world, the world cries out, "It shouldn't be this way." and the world is correct, because it was created to be something far more beautiful.   Lastly, if you're still feeling protective, still feeling nervous and concerned, "We don't help refugees because they are Christian. We help them because we are Christian. Are there microscopically small risks if we do? Yes. But there are astronomicaly graver and more certain consequences if we refuse: "Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me..."    

 To be charitable involves risk. It must. It's not misleading to say, we are called to be the good Samaritan. What it is, is difficult, which is why many of us, move to the other side of the road, or pretend we don't see the man left by thieves. It's not a lecture to recall Christ's words to us, when we ask the question, "Who is my neighbor?" in an attempt to justify ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit calling us to action, and our fallen will, wrestling with whether it will hear and answer, or ignore and walk by.

The world will be on fire one way or another, on fire with hate or love.  Be part of that beauty, and the world will shine with mercy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Problem with I-dentity Thinking

Unless you've lived sans the internet the past week, you've heard something of the unrest taking place at the University of Missouri, where the President resigned in an attempt to address or redress the complaints of student activists about his handling of several incidents of racism.   Some feel, it was the hijacking of free speech for group think, others feel it is an indication of how difficult it is to get administrations and institutions to address the very real problem of racism, and still others, felt this to be a victory.  

Reality is never neat, and I suspect, the resignation of the President and any others as  a result of student protests and raised awareness, football team boycotts and classes being cancelled, won't bring about the brave new world where no one ever hears a discouraging word. Whatever it is to live and work at a place where all thought, written word and speech are hermetically sealed and approved for public consumption, it isn't reality.

The problem seems intractable because there seems to be no means of redress or deescalating the situation. If one is in a position of privilege or power, and one errs in word, speech or deed, or fails to act perfectly, the presumption is malice.  The decision by the grad student to go on a hunger strike until the president of the university lost his job, gave the parameters for the fight. There was no opportunity for dissent, or discussion, if the rules are capitulate or lose your job.   As a rule, people being threatened, are unlikely to have a genuine conversion or conversation, and as such, no one will feel satisfied if they give an inch.  The President didn't, and so things grew worse until he surrendered.

Victory!  Not so fast.

Likewise, throwing up one's hands and surrendering (stepping down), means no discussion has been advanced.  If the person in a position of authority, had been blind to injustice as a result of privilege, might having him stay now that he'd been chastened, make him wiser and more responsive to students experiencing racial bias?   The next person will be at least wary, but that doesn't mean anything has been done to grow trust across the student body, or between the students and faculty or administration.  It means, the activists got rid of someone; they have emotional power and political heft.  It doesn't mean, the problem was solved.

Getting rid of people with whom we disagree, doesn't create the harmony people want, or the fair treatment people claim they hope to see as a result.   People aren't problems to be solved or eliminated, but to be loved and served.   That can't happen if we must live in a bubble without anyone's thoughts or feelings ever differing from our own.  Why can't it?  Because in a world where everyone says the same thing no matter what, everyone is lying.  No community can be built on lies.

What is needed in our society, as a nation, is a means of redress, and a means of seeking, and receiving forgiveness, but that involves surrendering the privilege of being hurt, not because one wasn't hurt, or there haven't been systemic hurts throughout all of history, but because to have true peace between people, people must forgive. People must forebear.  People must show mercy.  There is no greater mercy than forgiveness, for it abandons the claim for justice or revenge, it surrenders the club of "You owe me, or you deserve this," in favor of forging a deeper new relationship.  "Begin again."  "Try again."  "Trust again."

Some would argue, those who need forgiveness, do not feel sorry or in some cases, aren't even aware of how they offend.  That is often the case, it is why forgiveness is so difficult and so sorely lacking in the pubic square of discussion, whether about politics, history, religion, or any other subject you'd care to bring up around the dinner table.  Offering forgiveness reveals the soul of the forgiver, not the forgiven.


Forgiveness and mercy, they do more than offer a new chance to those who cause the injury, they allow the injured to not stay wounded as well.  There has been a recent demand on the part of students for "safe zones" to ensure they never have their hearts or minds or preconceptions troubled by the differing opinion of another.  Sadly, the universities have begun creating these walled off areas, that keep all others out.

 Perhaps universities would do better if instead of "Safe Spaces," they created "Forgiveness zones." where people could stop to reflect on who they need to forgive, whether or not the person or persons are present, and drop that emotional baggage as the great weight it is, and get on with the business of learning how to open doors between people, rather than shut out all those who disagree.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How Do We Do This?

It's a question that bites at four in the morning, when you just went to the kitchen for some water and discovered your teen asleep at the computer, having pulled the high school equivalent of an all nighter.  You send her down to bed.  The seven year old comes down the stairs, thinking it's breakfast time.  You send him back up.  The next day there is a parent teacher conference and a basketball practice which runs late, and a presentation at ten which two of your children are in, and who will feel crushed if no one shows.  You go.  There is a pile of a laundry in your room because you took everything out of your drawers looking for your daughter's pair of white pants which she insisted were missing, but which she found in her drawers after you'd done the damage.

My five year old slumps on the floor, demanding food and entertainment.  My ten year old chafes at being told to take a shower.  She doesn't have anything red, white or blue that's clean for the show, so I fish through the laundry, while my husband drives the two to their school, and the overtired teen who missed the bus to hers.  He stops and gets our daughter a shirt while I'm at home doing pony tails and trying to brush long hair without snagging, for she snarls when there are snarls in her hair.

And I know I'm not the only one feeling the crush of things.  My sister's family is rocked by my niece who broke her arm so badly, it will need surgery.  My mom needed care at the start of October. Fall has been hard.  The fall is hard.   Being fallen, harder still.

So what do we do? How do we do this? How do we keep doing this?

It is a choice, gnash or sing, weep or pray, growl or read.

Sunday, we took a late date night to see the latest James Bond film. We forced it into the schedule, because it wouldn't happen any other way.  The next day, I put out table cloths and Thanksgiving decorations and we had apple pie. There's only one way to fight chaos and stress, and the pain and nuisances of this life, with deliberate kindness, delight, service and beauty.  

The Blessed Mother did not scream at the crowd for mutilating her son.  She did not rage at the injustice or the cruelty of it all, and she had cause.  I just have nuisance value.  To prove the point, the nurse called from the elementary, to let me know Paul's eye is red, and he might have pink eye. I felt the sting of it, even though I know my sister is dealing with far more vexing medical issues.  I can understand how we are to respond.  I do not respond that way...also,  my four year old does not want to go back into the car.   She slumps onto the floor, rump in the air and says, "This is boring. I'm so bored.  I don't want to do this."

How do we do this?  I bribe her with mini-muffins, clapping hands and a song.  By recognizing we are always in a fight against time, against all the paper cuts and bigger wounds of the world.   This morning, my ten year old came down the stairs with a case of the grumps.  Her father hugged her until it melted away.   We have to keep remembering, to try again and together, with flowers and light, table cloths and books, hugs and games, kind words and second chances, we will make today, and all the days that come after, memories of light, and not one long scratchy dull fall of frustration.

But it is tempting to fall into that way of thinking, so God keeps sending reminders through other people.

Today, I went to Veteran's day at my children's school.  They sang songs. They asked the men and women to stand and be recognized. The principal asked them to speak.  The kids clapped, they recited a poem, and all children who had family still serving, were asked to stand.   Two boys stood for their father.  At the end of the school ceremony, when we'd clapped and sang and saluted the Veterans, a special guest arrived, and these two boys saw their father in the flesh for the first time in a year.   There wasn't a dry eye in the auditorium.  Here was a reminder that all of the pain and nuisance of life, is fleeting, this is what remains eternal.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why We NEED a Year of Mercy...Maybe a Decade...a Century...

or however many the Pope can spare.

By now, everyone worth quoting has weighed in on the Starbucks Red Scare cups.  I don't frequent Starbucks because I don't drink coffee.  I used to go and get a hot chocolate when I had a Mother's day out, but with the advent of a Keurig in our home, it isn't a need or even a want.  That being said, I've seen a lot of internet ink spilled explaining how it isn't a war on Christmas, that no one should be offended, and that anyone who is offended, is being a goofball, making a tempest in a Venti cup. As  an opening salvo in this year's "War on Christmas" cry, it doesn't even merit a bah humbug.  So Starbucks have red cups without special snowflakes for this season.  Personally, the only reason to be upset with Starbucks for this decision, is if you have a grudge against Alabama. (Roll tide).   It's nuts.  
Ultimately, the internet always plays to the smallest heart, the smallest mind, and the most clickbaitable of responses.  Ergo, the people who thought BOYCOTT because of red cups become the poster spokes children for all Christians.  Most people will either not drink the coffee and go about their lives, or will drink the coffee and go about their lives.  Their faith will not be shaken by the container of the beverages though the beverages contained might cause the shakes.

How did we get to this point, that people hear dog whistles all the time to respond with a Pavlovian outrage?  We've lost something crucial to society, crucial to being Christian, to being human.  We presume ourselves, regardless of the stimuli, the persecuted, and the other, whatever the other is, the persecutor.   We may in fact suffer indignities, countless ones from other people, from the news, from the internet, from opposing political parities, from pundits, from songs on the radio, from popular entertainment, from whatever it is that offends.  The important element in such experiences, is how we respond, both to the offenses, and to the persons, and to all we encounter after the injury.

Which brings me to Pope Francis' proclamation of the "Year of Mercy."

It starts December 8, 2016, on The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  What does showing mercy look like?

It is forbearance in the face of actual grievances.
It is forgiveness for past pains.
It is generosity of spirit toward others.
It is healing rather than harsh.
It opts for the kindest rather than cleverest response.
It doesn't go looking to be irritated.
It doesn't presume bad faith or bad motive.
It does not expect reciprocity. It is a gift.
It heals the giver, even as it offers healing to the recipient.
Mercy cannot be given in wrath, or to prove a point.  It is uniquely personal.  It is from one person, to another.  It is a hand, offering aid.
Mercy is never what we deserve.  Mercy is always a gift beyond what is merited.

It's a funny thing, mercy, because we all hope for it for ourselves, and even when we receive it, we often do not recognize it for what it is.  We think, we lucked out, we squeezed by, or things worked out as they should be.

It will not make the papers, it will seem invisible.  Why?  Because when we are merciful, we are the most fully human we can be, the most in God's image, we can manage.

So spend this year, and in particular, the upcoming Advent, practicing the mercy you want to see in the world.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Small Success Thursday/What's For Dinner/Will She EVER blog again?

1. It's been a while, because I'm trying to restart in that boot camp, but having these sort of weekly memes keeps me from slacking, so I've returned, but I've also combined the three. Muhahhahahahahaha...
  
   2.

It's Saturday...and I'm only just getting around to posting a link to Small Success Thursday. One could call that a very small success or a rather big failure on my part, but I'm going to say, go, it's never too late to count your blessings. :)


3. What's for Supper Simcha Fisher?

A heaping feast of humble pie.  I'd planned to make it last week.  It took me until this week to make lamb stew, but it was GOOD.  Plus, I had fun walking into the liquor store to buy one can of Guinness with a four year old dressed in her Harley Quinn Costume.  

Anyway, the stew itself is simple and won a few converts.  (John on up liked it, Rita on down did not).  It splits right where I would have predicted.  But hey, that's what chicken nuggets were invented for, to eliminate the hassle of "I don't like dinner" when dinner is something unusual.  That, and cold cereal.

But planning out the menu for the upcoming week does make life easier.
I will try to at some point, be artsy enough to take a photo of food we eat.  But that didn't happen this week.

Dinner Saturday: Beef Stew....why?  Because it's raining, so it just fits.  Everyone who objects gets leftovers.

Dinner Sunday:  Pork Tenderloin, roasted potatoes, green beans and salad. Dessert. (We always have dessert for Sunday night, it's a good way to make sure everyone stays at the table, pumpkin pie, a nearly universal favorite. The two mavericks get ice cream).

Dinner Monday:  Life gets evil, as basketball season has started and Faith has practice Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, while John has practice Tuesday. CCD is on Tuesday, but not at the same time as Basketball.  Go figure.   So dinner will need to be pre-planned to prevent nervous breakdowns, dinner at 9 in the evening and dinners that come out of a microwave.   On the plus side, field hockey and x-country have ended, so the teens will be coming home on the bus.   (Cue happy dance).  

Dinner Monday?  Lasagna. (I'm not a martyr, it's Stoffer's, but it will mean dinner gets prebaked, and no worries).  

Dinner Tuesday?  Baked Chicken and french fries, mixed veggies and salad.  Again, I cook the chicken during the day so we reheat and go...

Dinner Wednesday?  Pork chops, broccoli...(which my kids like),

carrots, potato wedges.  This one is not as tricky as it seems.  I season the chops with soy sauce and strawberry jam, cooking oil and kosher salt.  I broil.   So it's fast, and the potato wedges I make in advance.  

Dinner Thursday?  Pasta, meatballs, sauce cooked all day in a crock pot.

Dinner Friday?  I'm thinking, pot roast if we get one, otherwise, it will be a waffle and bacon night.

4.  What am I reading?   Well, there are four books currently in the reading rotation.

Regina: Black Beauty.  
Rita: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  (It was nice to revisit Hogwarts with two sets of new eyes. Rita and Regina are loving it).
John:  The Prince and the Pauper.  After so many awful (and I do mean awful) cartoon versions of this Mark Twain novel, I thought it time to rediscover the real thing. We're enjoying it.
Me:  (I'd read to Faith, Peter and Marta if they let me).   I'm reading Pope Benedict's The Doctors of the Church, which is a very good, very readable book, introducing me to all 35 of those proclaimed to be so named.   I read a doctor at a time, so as to not be overwhelmed.

5,  What else is going on?
In other sports news...
Rita and Regina are signed up for Girls on the Run.  It's a 5K and Faith and I will be their partners.  So I'm hitting the gym so I can keep up with my 8 year old.  

Peter is running in the Baltimore Celtic Solstice 5 mile on December 19th.  He'll be joining his uncle and aunt --who ran in the NYC marathon and PR'd at just 4 hours and 58 minutes, and his cousins. All but the 5 year old are running.

6.  Come on, there's more...
There is...Marta is finishing up applications for college.  Faith is doing prep work for Confirmation and looking at high schools.   Paul is talking a bit more.  As his sister Anna said, "He's not using Down Syndrome words."  And Anna is reading.  She's not yet five. It's cool to watch.

7.  I'm working on writing one thousand words a day, so I don't have much left for blogging, hence the condensing of three internet list memes into one.  I don't have anything more to report except, I dressed up this Halloween as Helen.   My husband took a picture.

Here:

 



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Catholic Bonifieds Mean Squato


Recently, David Mills wrote A Marxist Lesson for Breeding Catholics, arguing that those who espouse Catholic teaching and have many children, do so from a position of privilege, and thus do not see the struggle of the poor, or of those for whom, the possibility of having another child, constitutes a danger/and or burden they can anticipate.  

As a member of what he calls, the romantic middle class breeding Catholic society, I'd like to say the following to David Mills, and those who think Catholic Breeders have NFP Rose colored glasses on when they welcome a child into the world and thank God they're in the 5 if not 1 percenters.  

Phooey.  

Being a practicing Catholic with a large family means three things.

1) We hold to the teachings of the Church on sex and marriage, though it costs.

2) We have no romanticism about the reality of how hard it is to either abstain or follow the Church's teachings, when we can see all around us, how much seemingly easier it is for everyone else to fund college, drive a car smaller than a Suburban, and just go out to dinner as a family, let alone, consider a vacation.  Hey kids, let's go Camping.  Do you know why?  Because two hotel rooms means the vacation is three days tops.  

3) We do get joyous about the children, because we do celebrate life, but that doesn't mean when we are pregnant, we're thinking, yipee! We're probably thinking, "How could God trust us again? How are we going to do this?  Do you think we can manage?  What can we cut?" and ten thousand little logistics like, if it's a girl, do we have hand me downs we can keep for her, or is the stuff so old, we need to start over?    (Please, long time readers, know I'm not expecting, it's just the topic I'm discussing).  

I think, Mills is confusing romanticism with a joyful witness.  It's not romantic to have 300 unmated socks permanently stashed on your sofa because no one, not even you, wants to deal with sorting.  But it is a joyful witness to get everyone out the door, and not sweat if some of the sock ware choices are creative.  Two my little pony socks, but different ones?  Hey, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are buds, why not in the foot ware department?  

It's a reality, if you have a big family, you get pegged.
Every time I've gone out with everybody, somebody says it.  "Mormon or Catholic?"  It's a standard response to having more than half a dozen. I don't mind it.  We grew into this size of a family, and into this witness.  It wasn't a pre-established design by us.  By God, sure, but not by us.  

But with having a JUMBO FAMILY PACK XXL family means you do get presumed to have somehow bypassed the moral struggles of parenting, and moved straight to some sort of perfected state, only punctuated by Erma Bombeck worthy moments of zany antics.   It's not true.

First, we have the normal battles, I mean discussions over who took the batteries for the remote, where is his shoe and going to bed even when you're not tired, how can you not be tired? I'm tired! just like any other family.  

Second, we're not here to judge anyone's faith life.  Honestly, I'm trying to make sure I get through mass or the movie or dinner or wherever it is we are whatever it is we're doing with the same exact number of people I showed up with, and hoping, none of them are doing something I won't be able to explain, like going through the free lollipops and opening all the ones that say "?" on them, to see if they can find their favorite flavor.  My Catholic bonifieds mean squanto except to the extent I live them, (which means, if I'm judging anyone else's attempt to live out their faith, carry their cross and discern how to serve God and their neighbor with all their heart, strength and mind),  I could have 15,000 children, and it wouldn't make me a good Catholic.

Third, a practicing, not perfected Catholic, and family size is no indicator of faith size.  What we wrestle with, may be less self evident, but that does not make it any less a reality.  

Finally, I'd like to insert any other word in for "wealthy" and indicate the absurdity of making this qualifier on living a Catholic life.  

"Only the affluent will find being open to life easy."
"Only the educated..."
"Only the powerful..."
"Only the physically strong..."

Money certainly helps with the physical needs (and there are plenty), but the way this article begins, it presumes, someone starts pre-fab, wealthy, and says, "Because I'm wealthy, I can afford the luxury of being open to life."  The world we live in, would seem to indicate, that's not the thinking that goes on...not because there aren't wealthy people open to life, or the wealthy people who were open to life, became poor because they were open to life, but because I would just eliminate the qualifier, and say, "Only those open to life, are open to life.  Some are blessed to find it easy."

The rest of it, I seriously doubt enters into the equation. We're all called to be saints.  If we're all called to be saints, you can bet, however God plans on bringing us to His table, it will be luminous, joyful, and even glorious, but it will also be sorrowful at times, and not easy.  To follow Christ is to hold onto a cross, to say even when you have nothing left, "I will serve." not because you want to prove yourself, but because you love.    

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's the Most Annoying Time of the Year....

Today is November 3rd.

My eleven year old started singing the 12 days of Christmas.  Even after explaining, theologically speaking, he should start on Christmas and go until the Feast of the Epiphany, even after pointing out the All Carols All the Time Radio Station hasn't started it's annual shtick, even after begging as I'm driving to his school, "I'll let you start up the day after Thanksgiving," he would not be deterred from starting a Yuletide revolution in the car.

I'd had them singing to help the ten year old with songs she has to know for a Veterans' day concert; "The Star Spangled Banner," "She's a Grand Old Flag" and "America the Beautiful."  We'd closed with two Fall favorites, "The Notre Dame Fight Song," and "Five Little Speckled Frogs."  But in the back row, came a deliberately off key and very loud...

"ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS..."
and the back row, swept in the wake of his silliness, joined in.  All off key, all loud, even Paul.   I pointed out, we're driving. It's morning.  There is traffic.

"ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS..."
They did run into the technical difficulties of remembering the three French Hens, there are a lot of birds in that song.  

I reminded everyone we ought to celebrate Thanksgiving before Christmas, and if they wanted to skip Thanksgiving, I'd let the school know to keep them in school that last week of November.

The song made its way to the second row, with editorial content.  "You can't leave us at school, we have Thanksgiving off!"  "FIVE GOLDEN RINGS!"

My google map says the road from here to their school is only fifteen miles.  It just feels so much longer.   I opt for the diversionary tactic of the radio, hoping to find some sing along song they love. I am stuck at a light by which point, the kids get to the nine ladies dancing.  An argument breaks out over who gets to say which item.  It turns out, no one wants the maids a milking, and everyone wants the five rings.

I have failed to quash the pre-Turkey day singing special.  I can only stew, ignore, or join.   It is then, the true spirit of Parenting knowledge shown in my eyes.  I knew how to recapture the car.  It would be without promises. It would be without nags. It would happen without bribes, without scolds and finger wags.   I opened my mouth, and sang forth clear and loud, "ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS..." and the silent night in my car, rang clear and profound.  I sang all the rest of the carol that ride.  Everyone else sat silent once I swallowed my pride.   It wasn't the prettiest song you'll ever hear, but I sang it with gusto.  I sang it with cheer.

And I told my tween son as he got out of the car, I love you very much.  He said, "Har-dee-har-har."


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