Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Tale of Two Stories

Simcha Fisher wrote a great piece yesterday about expecting their youngest, Corrie.  The article triggered a lot of memories of our own experience of Paul, which turned into my post over at Aleteia today, Down Syndrome and God's Delivery System.  Please go read, share, like and leave a comment.

Thank you!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Two Pieces to Read!

It's Easter!  Celebrate!

I have a piece over at Fathers For Good called "Give God the Glory." 

Also, there's a piece today over at Aleteia called "A Faith Filled Life Without Catholic School.

Please link, like, share and leave a comment if you can.  Thank you!

Monday, March 28, 2016

10 Stages if Easter Candy Eating*

*Sixteeen year old son asked, "Did this really happen?"  I answered, "No.  No it did not."  He believes me...sort of.


Stage 1: Oh! There is so much! I couldn't possibly eat all of this...I'll pace myself and just eat this one chocolate egg. Maybe the ears off the bunny...and a few jelly beans but not the chocolate ones...just to give myself variety.
Stage 2: Fifteen minutes later. I'm still hungry. I'll finish off the bunny. It's hollow so it's not like it's so much chocolate anyway.
Stage 3: After mass and before breakfast. The bacon is taking too long to cook. I'll peel a few chocolate eggs. Ohhhhh. A truffle egg. I'll save that for later.
Stage 4: During breakfast. It's later. Polishes off the truffle egg.
Stage 5: After breakfast, while cleaning up. Begins ferreting through children's Easter baskets for unloved truffles. They haven't yet been eaten so they must be unloved...
Stage 6: Before lunch. Gets caught wolfing down child's chocolate Easter bunny. Bribes child with a five dollar bill.
Stage 7: After lunch. Begins combing through and eating the chocolate flavored jelly beans in desperation.
Stage 8: At four o'clock, husband offers up his chocolate to save the rest of the children's baskets.
Stage 9: All chocolate in the house consumed or in a ziplock bag and labeled with a child's name. Mom spoons Nutella to cope.
Stage 10: In an effort not to destroy her children's love for her, Mom drives to the store and purchases discounted Easter stash of new bunnies. She recognizes she has a problem in the check out line, and trims the pile down to a single one which she eats before she gets home so no one will know.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Poem

Why isn't the World different?
Why isn't the World better?
Why isn't the World
full of happier people?

We are a world
of 7.1 billion Sauls
living our lives
hopefully on our way to Damascus.

We do not know this Jesus
or why these people
keep proclaiming
"He is risen."

They must be crazy.
They must be lying.
But why would they go so far
as to die to preserve a myth?

We have to ask
when we have the time
why we long for a better world
than the one we live in?

What made us wish or dream or even pray
for something more, something eternal?
Nothing satisfies, yet we are forever longing.
How could we be bred and wired for something that isn't?

So we go back to these men
and back to these women
who say something we couldn't fathom
which can't possibly be true

and yet they tremble as they profess it
even unto death they cry out this truth.
Which leaves us with What if Easter Is?
What would the world look like if everyone knew

Easter is

Friday, March 25, 2016

Third Class Relics

It's Good Friday and I wanted to do...something.   I wanted my kids to experience something of Good Friday, for something of the bones of our faith to resonate in their bones.

I'd hit upon the insane notion, I wanted us to walk through a door of mercy.  This is the Jubilee year of Mercy and all across the world, there are Holy Doors.  If you walk through them, and get to confession and communion, (plus a few prayers), you obtain a plenary indulgence.  What a way to get to Easter!   I've tried to do indulgences in the past, to have all our sins remitted, not just forgiven, but also removed from what we would owe for our transgressions.   Somehow, I never quite make it.

I googled Holy Doors.  One of my kids wanted to go to confession.   The Basilica offered confession from 10 to 6.  We could go through the Holy Door.  We could go to confession.  We could pray for the Pope's intentions and on Easter, receive communion.  We would get everyone in the family an indulgence.   As a bonus, we could see the relics of the passion of our Lord.

The Basilica website indicated there would be 1st class Relics to venerate.  We would see a piece of the one True Cross, found by Saint Helen.  We would see a piece of the spikes that pierced our Lord.  We would see a thorn from the crown, relics from Saint Peter and Saint Paul and a fragment from the veil of the Blessed Mother.  

In the crypt church of the Basilica, the line for confession and for the relics stretched out the length of the church, and wound around.   We waited.  The kids squirmed, struggled, and my having not eaten didn't help with the issue of patience.   We waited.  We waited.  We waited.  We did bathroom breaks and afterwards, scrounged for things we could touch to the relics.   I touched my wedding ring to the spot separated by the glass, where on the other side was a fragment of the one True Cross and foolishly put it back on my finger instead of the chain where I normally wore it.  It fit my finger.

Five minutes later, my finger was pink.  We scrambled to the cafeteria where I bought m&m's for those not fasting.   My daughter had quit the line for confession, as she was told, it would be two more hours.  I felt defeated, and I couldn't get my ring off my finger.   We left to go to the car, with me feeling ever more certain, if I didn't need a plenary indulgence before, I needed it now.   In the car, I gobbed my daughter's hand lotion on my finger and pulled and twisted.  My finger looked red now.

My son asked what would happen if we didn't get it off.   My overly helpful older daughter explained in more detail than I could stomach, what would happen.  I needed help.  I'd seen the sign for the entrance to the Little Sisters of the Poor.  I drove back to it and knocked on the door.  They looked at my finger, heard my story, and called a nurse.  

Daisy, (God bless her), talked me through her gentle pulling of the ring.  The irony of it being March 25th, the day Tolkien chose for the destruction of the one ring, was not lost on me.  I hoped it wouldn't be the day my wedding ring became a relic and then had to be destroyed.

My daughter who didn't make it to confession, sensing my stress level, decided to lead us in the rosary.  It made the trip bearable, because I felt so defeated by all of it.

It took the whole drive home for my finger to return to normal.   The ring is once again on the chain on my neck.  It touched a relic, ergo it is a relic itself.   Looking at my finger, the ring left a mark. I can't help but think about the thorn and the particle of the spike and the cross.  Relics aren't neat little holy trinkets, they're raw pieces of real life, real experiences of suffering rendered meaningful by how the person who endured it, faced it.

All I felt I'd proven, was how much I needed more time in this life, in this Lent, to get ready for Easter.







Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Second Stations of the Cross


There was still the evening show.
At five, I loaded the car with my two daughters who were in the show and my sixth grade son who wanted to see it. My 16 year old and 14 year old agreed to babysit the littles, and my 18 year old was at a softball game, probably late.
I got to the school. The CCD leaders were upset. They lacked a key player. The student assigned the role of Simon, the one who helped Jesus carry the cross, failed to come. I drafted my sixth grader. He didn't want to perform. He hates any and all assignments that require he take the stage. I told him, you're being pressed into service, same as Simon. I bribed him with the promise of milk shakes.
I'd get to watch of my kids be part of this seasonal play I've always loved. The phone rang. My daughter's softball game ended. She'd been left at the high school alone. The school was ten miles away, but it was rush hour. What would normally take twenty minutes, would take forty. I'd never make it back for the show.
My daughter texted me. "No one invited me to go to get burgers. Also, I rode the bench. Again." I'd have to convince her not to quit. Sure enough, she got in the car in a full fuming mood. "Why am I wasting my time?" she asked.
"Softball season is long. You'll get your chance."
"I hate it. I want to quit now."
"Give it a week. If you don't play in a week, you can explain, it's too time consuming for Senior year."
She began texting on her phone. It meant she'd give it a week.
Parking, I saw three parents coming out to their cars. Everything was over. My son and two daughters came out of the classroom, cramming rice krispy treats into their mouths. My son in between bites managed to gag out, "Milkshakes?"
I brought them all back to the car where the texting teen informed me she needed us to stop at the store for coffee, gum and shampoo. She medicates with shopping. I said yes. My son babysitting texted a note. "Smuckers Uncrustables and protein shakes for my track meet tomorrow and frozen meatballs, we're making pasta."
The three actors got their milkshakes. I told them how sorry I was I didn't get to see them.
"That's okay," my daughter who played Veronica said, "The Stations of the Cross are tomorrow too."

God's laughing....

So you know how I wrote that post yesterday about blogging being light?  Well, yesterday's adventures merited not one but two blog posts.  Everyone knows the rule about making God laugh.  All you have to do is profess your plans.

The First Stations of the Cross
Part of being a stay at home mom is supposed to be those moments you get to see your kids doing things and they see you seeing them. I felt very excited I'd be able to go to the stations of the cross and see three of my children acting in them.
At one o'clock, I loaded my five year old and drove toward the school. I stopped at the gas station and there, I saw her. She looked older than I knew her to be. This woman holding a walker stood at the side of six lanes of traffic, fully intending to cross. I looked for an aide, a nurse, a daughter, someone who would escort her. There was no one.
Standing, waiting in an ill fitting pair of old jeans, so ill fitting, they did not cover all of her hips, and a too small for her jacket, her middle was completely exposed. I couldn't stand it. We'd be late. Grabbing a shirt from my husband's dry cleaning stack, I walked to her. "Do you want a shirt?" I asked.
"No!" she said. Okay, that was inartful. I rationalized, she was one turn from being naked on the side of the street, and tried again. "Do you need any help?"
"Yes! I'm lost." Lost! Yes. That made sense. "Come back with me toward the car, I have a smart phone. I'll help you find where you want to go." She followed.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Renee." She gave me a smile. She followed, occasionally hitching her pants.
I googled her spot. It was in fact, across the street but a block away. She'd never get past the traffic coming over the bridge.
"Let me give you a ride." I offered.
"You'll have to take my walker." Renee said.
I loaded the walker in the trunk and looked again at the long sleeved shirt she'd refused.
One block, but it took two tries to get to the spot. It was a building set back from the street and the entrance was in the cellar.
During the drive she told me she'd received a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee in Clinical Psychology and I had to wonder, was I being tested to see either how gullible I was, or was she pulling my leg to show she had a sense of humor, or was there a reality to this story, which revealed a far greater tragedy. I opted to simply believe. "That's impressive." She added, she'd received a second degree when she made a lateral move to specialize. "What is this place I'm taking you to?"
"It's a cable store."
"You mean like Comcast or Direct TV?"
"No. They sell cables."
"There's a store that just sells wire?"
"Thanks for doing this for me." she added.
"Hey. It isn't every day I get to give a ride to a person with two doctorates." She gave me a smile. I'd gotten the joke. We understood each other.
We parked. I got out her walker and thought, I'd try again. "May I give you a shirt?"
"Oh. I would love that."
I slid the rose button down long sleeved shirt over her arms and across her shoulders. It hid everything.
"Thank you."
She started to take the stairs with the walker. I didn't know if she was less disabled than she seemed or just lacked judgement but I couldn't leave. "That looks really steep. I don't want you to break your neck." I took the walker, and she gripped both railings all the way down, "Bye Renee."
I raced back the two blocks it took to get to my daughter's school. They were taking the photos for the year book. I'd missed it all. My oldest daughter gave me a hug anyway when she saw me.

When I told her the story, she told me, "Well, you can go tonight."  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Let the Little Sisters Serve

Nice little charity you have here Little Sisters of the Poor.  Twenty-seven homes across the nation where all you do all day is care for the elderly and the sick all of your lives…and it’s true, you’ve done this for over 150 years regardless of a person’s capacity to pay or religious affiliation.  Even though you are sisters, your non-profit is not religious enough to warrant an exemption.  We, the government, in an effort to provide affordable health care for everyone, will shut down a non-profit serving the people we’ve claimed the H.S.S. mandate is supposed to serve.  

One has to ask “Why?”

The Little Sisters of the Poor do not want to provide for anti-conception medications for their employees via insurance.   They have up to this point, provided insurance which did not violate the tenets of their faith, and want the same protection they’ve always had, to not be forced even third party, to enable anyone to engage in an action they know through their faith to be immoral.  The government has termed these products to be necessary as part of all health care plans, and thus demands they be provided.  The Little Sisters cannot opt out.  They can only opt to sign a letter saying they understand the products will be given under a third party.   It’s a bit like signing a form to say, I will not provide alcohol, but the caterer I paid for, will supply it to the meeting for those dealing with substance abuse.  

Opponents worry granting the Little Sisters of the Poor their moral objection will create a “slippery slope,” where businesses and non-profits in an effort to reduce costs, will create their own religions that eliminate procedures if the exception is given to these women.   The problem with that “slippery slope” is reality.  The Little Sisters have had insurance without providing for these items for years, out of principle.   Scores of non-profits knew about that option, to provide insurance without paying for birth control and abortifacients, and they did not opt to take the cost cutting measure of a policy that covered less for their employees because they held no moral objection.   Most non profits, most people and many religions, have no moral objection to providing birth control, ergo, granting the Little Sisters an exemption not going to create a stampede of businesses and non profits  suing the government for the right not to provide such services which so many people favor.

However, the slippery slope in the opposite manner is very reasonable if past is prologue.   Today the government deemed birth control pills non-negotionable.  Tomorrow, it may be abortion itself.  Euthanasia is also a likely necessary service if enough people deem it reasonable.  Violation after violation of one’s moral codes will be mandated via the third party thinking system.   IVF, IUD’s, and countless other procedures the Church has deemed morally objectionable, will be demanded under the fig leaf argument that, it’s not me…it’s just the insurance.   Anyone else hear echoes of “It’s not me Kate, it’s my family.” 

Only an irony impaired and power hungry bureaucracy could think persecuting an order of sisters dedicated to caring for the sick and needy would be an imperative demanding a fine of 70 million dollars and a legal battle all the way up to the Supreme Court. Common sense alone would dictate not stopping such people from providing consistent compassionate daily care to countless individuals.   Further, the government has already allotted multiple exemptions and grandfather clauses to corporations, not because of their religious convictions, but political contributions and capacity to provide political contributions.  

So why would the government push so hard against a well-known well established non-profit run by sisters?   It isn’t to bankrupt them.  It’s to make a public example of them to the rest of us.    After all, if these women dedicated to God and serving the poor are not religious enough to merit an exemption for their non-profit, who can stand against the H.S.S. mandate based on their religious convictions.  We must pay for birth control. We must pay for abortifacients. We must pay for abortions.  We must pay for IVF, we must pay for all things, even those we deem objectionable.   Obedience to the state must take precedence to obedience to God, or one’s religion.   Don’t fret little nuns.   We absolve you of any culpability in this action, we’ve declared what you think a sin, to be a right, ergo it is not sinful.   So what if your church says differently.  So what if you think enabling sin is a sin itself. It’s not relevant.  All must serve the state.  


Please, let the Little Sisters serve the poor as they always have.   Tell the court, tell your President, tell Congress to stand with the Little Sisters, and preserve religious liberty for all.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Now is the Time to Start the Big Push

My dad would say that whenever I complained about how much I had to do.   Today, I woke up discouraged.  I have a list of things to do that is fifteen plus items long. It is full of hard to do tedious errands that will require thought, care and time.

Instead, I am writing.  

This is the last week of Lent.  It is time to take stock.   Even if you haven't done anything or have blown Lent, forgotten your resolutions, now is the time to start the big push.

You can make this Lent the beginning of a deeper faith life if you do  any of the following.  This week.  It's not a formula.  It's a call.  It's the means by which God acts.  You look at the list.  Something in it tugs.   Follow that tug.  Don't be afraid. It is the Holy Spirit, trying to bring you deeper and deeper in.  

1) Go to the stations of the cross.  Let your mind dwell on the why of it.

2) Go to confession.  Masstimes.org is a great place to find one nearby. Or call, make an appointment.

3) Go to Holy Thursday mass.  Yes. It's long.  It's worth it.

4) Fast on Good Friday.

5) Pray the rosary.

6) Go to adoration, spend an hour.  There is a church near you that holds 24-7 adoration.  Find it.

7) Read the scripture readings for the week or listen to them via podcast.  Laudate is a great app if you have a smart phone and want to listen in the car.

8) Perform one of the Corporal Acts of Mercy:
         a) Feed the hungry
         b) Give drink to the thirsty
         c) Shelter the Homeless
         d) Visit the sick
         e) Visit the Prisoners
         f) Bury the Dead.
Pope Francis is an exceptional example of someone trying with all he has to do the acts of mercy almost every day.

9) Perform one of the Spiritual Acts of Mercy:
         a) Counseling the Doubtful
         b) Instructing the Ignorant
         c) Admonishing the Sinner
         d) Comforting the Sorrowful
         e) Forgiving Injuries
         f) bearing wrongs patiently
         g) Praying for the deceased.

10) Invite someone who does not go to mass, to come with you.

11) Offer a mass for someone.

12) Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet..

13) Go to the Church at 3 o'clock on Friday.

14) Pray the Prayer of Abandonment every day this week.

15) Give alms.

    I finished writing the list and realized, I'd created a possible to do list of more than 15 things, all of which take time, but which are in no way tedious.   Oddly enough, adding that extra thing to the list, made it feel lighter.  

So pick one.  Then, tackle the rest of whatever you have to do.  As you might surmise, blogging will very likely be light this week, owing to Holy Week, but now is the time to start the big push.
 





Monday, March 14, 2016

You Know You're Catholic When..

10) The loss of your monthly Magnificat at the start of the month is a near occasion of sin. 

9) You have eaten a Filet-o-Fish. 

8) You scream at the radio whenever they play "Mary did you know?" Yes! For Crying Out Loud! An angel Gabriel...
7) After years of uniforms, wearing plaid is oddly comforting.

6) Someone is asking what you think of the newest doctor and you say, "I haven't yet read Saint Gregory of Narek's 'Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart," but I plan to..."


5) You struggle when the lines for the confessional are long.

4) You know Transubstantiation counts for at least 20 words in Scrabble, before the bonus points.

3) 
Rooting for the Irish can be argued as a form of penance. At the very least, it teaches humility.

2) 
You know that gator, snake, and capybara don't count as meat, even if you've never ventured to try that last one.

1) Your kids have calculated out Lent to be 45 days until Easter, and spent time online figuring out the feast days to bring that tally back down to 40.

Hang in there, Lent is long but we're coming to the end of this high fast season.   Thought everyone could use a chuckle to start the week, and soldier up for the remaining two weeks of fasting, alms-giving, prayer and penance.   

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Two-fer Thursday

We always do Small Success over at Catholicmom.com!  Today, we're talking about how to take a God break when life is overwhelming.

But, I never did get to link up to Creative Minority Report, Matt was kind enough to host my Satirical self and I did a rip on the very obnoxious sitcom called the Real O'Neals.  So if you want milk chocolate today, go to Catholicmom.com.  If you're in favor of a bit more dark mixed with fruits and nuts, go to Creative Minority Report...and if you're like me and didn't give up Chocolate for Lent, you have both.  

Have a great day! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Over at Fathers For Good Today

My computer is currently in the shop.  However, I did write a piece for Fathers For Good!  So come visit and if you like, share, link, tweet and leave a comment.  Today we're talking about making a Lenten check up, am I going out into the desert?  Or did I just give up dessert?  Come  join us.

I'll be here...waiting for my computer to be repaired.   Day 5....

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Catholicmom.com Today

Please come join us over at Catholicmom.com for Small Success Thursday!



Lent can be a time when we focus only on our sins and when we do that, we miss the mark.  The point of stripping away the world is to notice God fills what we'd cluttered.  The point of recognizing our own sinful nature, is to recognize how much we need God's mercy, and to rejoice we have access to it, if we but seek and ask.   So stop today, and count your blessings.  Count them on a rosary and you will discover, if you're willing to cultivate your heart with gratitude, you will run out of beads before you run out of reasons to say "Thank you." and at the end, your heart will feel so full, it will feel like Christmas and Easter and your birthday, the joy must spill out.

If you still don't feel like going, if you are still struggling with "It's winter. It's Lent. I'm tired. There are 1000 things to do and I don't feel like doing them..."  go here for true refreshment of spirit, because this is what it means to discover God's love is all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Fathers For Good

The month of March, I'm writing pieces for the Knights of Columbus over at Fathers For Good.   Here's my first offering,  I chose to focus my pieces on family life as part of the Lenten season.  Please, click on the link and if you like it, share  Patient Progress.

Okay.....Time to Write!

Man.  There are days I just can't wait to bang out words on the keyboard, and there are days when I look at that computer and can only think, I got nothing.   Today, I'm psyched. I'm energized.  I couldn't wait to get started.

I have...no ideas.

Not one.  Well, I have half formed notions but honestly, they aren't enough and I don't have the story to work around the ideas to make them worth reading or clogging up the internet.   But I've cleaned the house, the laundry is at an ignore-possible state, and I paid the bills yesterday.  I've already chalk colored half the driveway with my daughter.   I drank a diet coke, I've eaten breakfast and taken my vitamin.   There just isn't an excuse.  

But I sat and stared at the blank page and thought...well...what am I going to write about?   I know...

Before I could start, the computer security popped up a detection of malware and my screen rebooted.

No! No! The moment was gone, all the brilliance that I didn't write, is lost lost lost!

So you get...well, you get this...which I promise, would have been internet shatteringly good writing, if only...


Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!