Sunday, December 31, 2017

Over at the Register

On the last day of 2017, I made my writing goal, to get 52 pieces published.  In the ongoing series on meditations on the Rosary, I thought the Christmas season the proper time to take on the Incarnation.  I've always found the quote by C.S. Lewis to be helpful in cultivating  a sense of wonder about God's willingness to submit Himself to our condition. 

However I discovered the world is filled with people who don't get that analogy only helps one to understand a relationship, it is not the definitive authoritative exclusive means by which to understand the relationship.   They live in com boxes and send helpful emails explaining to me that we are all created in God's image (Yes), and that to compare Christ's becoming human to our becoming a slug is to demean the degree of divine image in ourselves.  I go back to...I am so fallen, I would not want to, for love of all slugs, for love of a slug, or for the salvation of all slugs, become a slug and I know, I am not so far above a slug as Christ is above me despite being made in God's  image. 

I told my son about the exchange and we joked a bit about feeling like a crab or like slugging someone...but that words are mighter than swords and it would be in bad form.  However, in the event anyone doesn't understand I'm still using poetic imagery to explain things: 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Family Sticking Point of Christmas

The Night before Christmas,
We couldn't escape
the ugly reality,...
We'd run out of tape.

The packages we'd bought
with such thought were all here
languishing and naked,
with no paper or bows to adhere.

Our children lay sleeping,
certain in their deep doze,
the gifts would be dazzling
and bedeckled with bows.

My anxiety and fear
at what we should do,
made us scramble through the art box
for every stick of glue.

We used all the address labels
and some post-its, it's true.
and before honey, we failed with staples
and gum we pre-chewed.

So with the hour growing later
and the choices ever more dire,
we turned to alternative adhesives
and our solution, childhood inspired.

Flour and water we remembered from pre-school
the measurement is vague but true.
and the 3-1 ratio we made turned gummy
but in the late hours, it would do.

We spackled the wrapping with brush and with trowel.
We hoped it would stick and I did pray.
just when we thought about throwing in the towel,
the clock struck twelve. It's Christmas day.

In the morning, our prayers answered
But not as we expected.
We'd layered on that stuff pretty thick
Every present wrapped became a piƱata,
only openable with a saw or heavy stick.

Merry Christmas!
*Inspired by the midnight run to 7-11 to fork over way too much money for last minute scotch tape and I promise, it wasn't in 2017. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

At the National Catholic Register

If you haven't had a chance to read my latest, it's about embracing the cross like a lover, as I continue trying to get through writing a piece about meditating on each of the Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous and Glorious Mysteries.  It's been a hard long series, growing more difficult with each subsequent essay.  I've numerous false starts and bad drafts.  What's more, it's been hard to keep track.  Thus far, I've written:

4 of the 5 Joyful Mysteries

Annunciation   --Let it be done to Us October 4, 2017
Visitation          --We are Always Invited  October 22, 2017
Presentation --At the Presentation, Mary Shows Us How to Be
Finding in the Temple  How my 13 year Old Taught Me Sept 21, 2017

3 of the 5 Sorrowful Mysteries

Agony in the Garden The Agony in the Garden December 8
Scourging at the Pillar The Scourging at the Pilar and the Me Too Meme October 28, 2017
Crowning of Thorns
Carrying of the Cross We all carry a cross

3 of the 5 Luminous Mysteries

Baptism of Jesus –Confirmation is Sacrament of Initiation, not Graduation
Wedding at Cana –They are Out of Wine September 26, 2017
Sermon on the Mount
Transfiguration --The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Institution of the Eucharist

and only 1 Glorious Mystery

Ascension into Heaven  Submitted…
Descent of the Holy Spirit
Assumption of the Blessed Mother
Crowning of Mary, Queen of Heaven

I'm planning on letting the Descent of the Holy Spirit be the final piece in this collection for my son John.  The others, I've tried to let the stories reveal themselves as we go about the business of whateve it is we're doing.   I'd originally planned to write on the Incarnation for Monday but I haven't found the way to get at it without getting in the way.   

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Darth Mutter or Mom Shot First

Somewhere between the ages of 3 and 18, children attempt to use Jedi mind tricks on their parents, certain those who birthed them want to sell them death sticks. What children do not know, is those mind tricks don't work on parents.

I told my six year old, "You can't go out dressed like that; it's cold outside."
She shook her head, "Check the weather app." Since when do first graders adopt the policy of "Trust but verify?" Promising her the outside would very much resemble the planet Hoth, she ignored my warnings and held her ground. Negotiations were shorter than her outfit.  "I'll wear a coat." she explained.

Her high school sister proved an unexpected member of the rebel alliance, coming down in shorts (with leggings), and explaining, "I have P.E. today." I informed both of them, there'd be no leaving this house until both dressed appropriately. One turned on the radio, searching for traffic and weather on the 8's, while the other asked her brother to use his phone to go on NOAA's website. I told them all, "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

The high schooler thought she'd get a pass by claiming she didn't have time to change and still catch the bus. I grabbed my keys. "I'll drive you." My offer of a mercy mission failed to move. The rebellion needed to be crushed. Using force wouldn't work, but using the force might.

I turned off the thermostat and opened the windows a crack. "You win. Wear what you want." I served breakfast. I put out bowls, spoons, milk and dry cereal. As a bonus, I put ice cubes in their orange juice.

Before the corn flakes grew soggy, I found them ready for school. Victory assured, we evacuated them in our moment of triumph.  (I saw them off to the bus). Meanwhile, my husband adjusted the thermostat and shut the windows.    He told me, "They underestimate the power of the dark side." I was thinking, "Let the Wookie win." but that worked. 

 I gave him a kiss as he left for work. I said, "I love you." He said, "I know."

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Backlog of postings

Hey everyone!  This past weekend I journeyed to Florida to celebrate my second born's graduation from college, six months early.   As such, I left the computer behind at home.   Yes, my fingers itched occasionally to write down everything, but it's also good to make my brain store up things which I'm sure will pour out when I'm not paying attention as I try to consistently make a go at writing 500 new words a day. 

So I have a few links for you of stuff which got published but not cross posted here. 

There's my piece on the First Sorrowful Mystery.  I also have a link to for Small Success Thursday of last week, and I have another piece over at the Register Seven Ways to Make the Most of Advent.

Lest you think it's all words and no reality, today, at CCD, I found myself trying to explain the birth of Jesus to a single student and his mom.  We made an Advent wreath and talked about how we manifest peace, hope, joy and love by our lives.  We read a version of the Christmas story told by Charles Dickens to his children. (It was a surpise to me too). 

However, I think we found ourselves connecting more over a single decade of the Rosary. Two weeks ago, I taught a class on the rosary and this time around, we said to close out the class.  The Blessed Mother undoes knots in relationships, she also sews hearts together. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Keep Calm, and Catholic and Write On

It started with reading a piece by a favorite Catholic writer and fellow mother of ten, Is Catholic Publishing Sexist?  I can't speak to that reality, but the discussion of women having to be "sweet," hit a nerve. 

Wrestling with joy isn't that what having a faith is? Isn't that what we're called to be?  To Live with hope despite all the proof over prof of our great and seemingly constant fallen nature?  I thought, "H
ave I become a Parody?" The charge that women's literature in the Catholic realm had to be 90% sweet/affirming I admit, scratched my own soul.  
There is always a danger when writing narrative memoirs or blog pieces or articles infused with Faith of sounding either Sound of Music sweet without the trials, or like a white hot mess who needs serious intervention. 

I know, if we don't write works which are infused with blood, sweat, tears and more than a few bruises, psychological and otherwise, we fail to present the reality of any faith life. We lie to ourselves and set others up to fail if our testimony is anything but true. The trial and the question for a Catholic writer, for any writer, but particularly, one writing about one's beliefs is, how to write of a faith infused life without sounding like a parody of one's self? 

The Small Success Thursday series I write every Thursday at is designed to uplift, to remind us to remember all is grace, all is a gift, and for all, we should give thanks.  Had I become a sugar version of myself?  Had I failed to give an honest account of my reality or of living the faith, either in an attempt to amuse, or to enlighten?   Had I become a Kinkaid version of my own faith life in my writing, light without purpose?   

I pushed myself to ponder, was I being too sweet?  Was I somehow giving off the whiff of not being not real by seeming to be too kind or too prayerful or too whatever.    I understood the concern.  A witness who seems too much like only dessert  is not a healthy model for the spiritual life.   We need the balance of meat and vegetables, water and want, to appreciate when we receive the grace of feasting.   Did I do enough, was I examining enough?  Had I failed?

There are over 250 Small Success Thursdays I've written for over the course of many years.  I read through some across the years.  They affirmed life and faith.  They also read true. In the course of the work, I acknowledge fatigue, clutter, craziness, frustrations with fights, lost shoes, schedules, adolescence, finances, lack of sleep and the constant churn of homework and housework and everything else.   In short, one can't write about counting blessings without recognizing the reality of when the dog bites, the bee stings and I feel sad. 

I'll say to anyone who asks, I don't remember my favorite things. I feel bad.  I struggle.  I crumble. I fail.  I shout.  I complain.  I grouse.  I resent.  I overspend and overeat and under exercise. I use the TV as a babysitter when I don't want to deal.  I order fast food.  I leave dishes in the sink. I pretend I'm too busy.  These were just the physical trials of the day.  We haven't touched homework or melt downs or remembering to fill out the seventeen bajillion forms each child needs done two weeks ago but I didn't get to it.  We aren't mentioning the basketball or the CCD or the meeting on Thursday I'm going to skip because I won't be in town. We hadn't discussed the nine light bulbs which need replacing in the back basement which serves as my oldest son's room or the reality, we need to repaint the upstairs and re-carpet because my daughter decided to paint in her room on the carpet.   Christmas is coming and we've already spent too much and have very little.  There is too much in the house and none of it fits.  I need to give away and give away and give away and still, we need to do wash and fold and put away and sort.

There are a thousand reasons in each room of my home and my interior life to  either rage and/or despair. I can find them all if I want.   I can refuse to see them all if I want.  Neither answer is correct.  Count the blessings why?  Because I sin and I sin and I sin, and if I don't count them, I won't see them, I won't see beyond my own failings. I'll only find the clutter. Everyone writes their own version of Confessions, of messiness, of dealing with the knives and the scrapes and the swearing and fighting of the will to respond to grace internally and externally. 

What does it mean? It means keep at this mess and ask for grace and respond. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

On Point

Today I took my kids to see the Nutcracker.  I remember seeing it almost yearly and almost yearly making a silent promise to myself that next year, I'd somehow try out.  I didn't because 1) I'd forget,  and 2) The studio which put on the production was the competitor to the dance school I attended and 3) I wasn't so much a ballerina as someone in love with performing. 

Watching the performance, I wondered what my kids thought and looked admist the perfect dancers for the ones who persisted on sheer determination.  The kid just slightly off, but giving it everything, that's the dancer for me. 

The girls knew some of the vocabulary from a movie about dancing they've taken to recently, Leap!   One asked, "Is that a grand jette?"  "Nope. Just Jette." "Is that a piroette?"  "Yes."  "How many did she do?" "Seven."  "Is that a lot?"  "Yes."  Whispered discussion about theatre ettiquitte earned me another five minutes of asking "Why?" 

I'd love for one of my girls to love dancing like I'd loved it, to want to do it even when it isn't for a performance, to love recitals.  So far, six girls, no ballerinas. 

At intermission, we perused the gift tables. Anna wanted a rhinestone tiara.  Regina wanted a sword with a scabbard or a snowglobe. (We got the snowglobe), and Rita wanted a souvenier coffee cup (though I suspect for the chocolate inside).   I looked wistfully at the toe shoe ornaments.  No one in my crew would want such a thing.

After the show, the dancers took questions and introduced themselves.  Most began dancing at four.  None danced fewer than seven years by the time they reached twelve.  The girls loved the show for the most part, they liked the costumes and the experience. 

When we got back in the car, I overheard the girls saying how grateful they were, they didn't have to do something every day.   "Yeah, like the villian's daughter in Leap! where her mom makes her dance all the time." They can't ballance on point, but they have ballanced lives I thought.   "Thanks for taking us Mom!"  "This was awesome!" "Thanks for going out with us." They enjoyed it for enjoying it, and for no other reason, and that was sufficient. 

In truth, it was the reason I got the tickets, to give them a memory.  In dance, to do a turn, you must fix your eyes and return to the spot, and not forget in mid spin where you want to go.  In parenting, the issue remains the same, stay focused, and you'll stay on point.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Be More Thankful, not Less

I wrote this yesterday, but it wasn't finished until today.  So as part of Thanksgiving weekend, you get to partake in the meal the day after the meal and the words I would wish to all who bother to read my blog a day late as well.   Happy Thanksgiving to each of you, even if you do not celebrate it. Thanks for being here, for being part of my life in whatever manner, and for all the blessings of life.  Thank you.  

Some people found it hard to celebrate this national holiday this year, the same way people struggle with prayer when things are hard, or refuse to push through an exercise or writng block. However, it is when we through an act of the will, engage in these activities, that we reveal whether we do something for the feeling or for the love of the thing itself.   So be more thankful, not less. 

Every year, we’re reminded to cultivate gratitude for our lives in this country where we hold greater rights than most people have throughout history. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect. It doesn’t mean we’re more virtuous, to a person or as a nation, only that we have been and continue to be blessed to live here.

We are.  We are. We are. We are.  That’s what we give thanks for, for being part of this great experiment, with all of its wrong turns and errors. We give thanks just the same for the privilege we hold, to be free, to vote, to have a system designed in theory though often not enforced or revealed through our actions, to promote each of us to fulfil our lives without fear of repression by the government. 

Thanksgiving is a time to remember this fact. Today, we give thanks for all that we have because we know, it wasn’t always thus, and isn’t now for so many.  We owe those who don’t have what we have today and every day, at least the obligation of gratitude for the blessings we hold and take for granted. 

Today, we have family because today we remember we are a family; with crazy uncles and cousins we don’t always see eye to eye with, with people we should know better, and people we sometimes feel we know too well. Today, we remember what holds us together, even as we work to remove, amend or heal what sets us at odds.  The giving of thanks in our hearts marked by a feast doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of problems; problems which require solving, problems which seem intractable, problems which seem like they shouldn’t exist anymore, and yet do.  The thanksgiving is to remind us of where we’ve been and where we’re trying to go.   

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Piece on the Luminous Mystery

Hello everyone, hope you had a great Thanksgiving with your family.  I have a piece in the Register dealing with the Transfiguration. I hope you enjoy it.  This journey with my son's confirmation in mind keeps teaching me. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Breakfast Order

This morning, my twelve-year-old came to the table irritated.  We didn’t have full servings of anything. She could have half a bagel or one blueberry waffle, but she didn’t want either, she wanted two blueberry waffles.  I offered her both.  She sat feeling frustrated her brother beat her to breakfast. 
I knew this was merely “morning-I’m-too-young-to-have-coffee-and-I-still-need-to-eat-breakfast-itis,” but I’d have to break through her stubbornness first.  The best approach is deliberate wierdness, to take her off her mood.  

“How about one of each? It’s a very Catholic breakfast.” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you get a half a bagel and one waffle, so it’s a full breakfast, but it’s not either or. It’s both and.”  She gave a brief smile, but she wasn’t ready to concede yet. 

“I don’t want them.” She said. “I really want two waffles. This is only half a serving.”
“If you eat half a bagel and one waffle, it’s the same as a whole serving of breakfast, it’s just two component parts.”
“I don’t want part of a waffle breakfast.”
“You will get a whole waffle.”  I put it in the toaster.
“Don’t toast it too much, you’ll ruin it.”
“Then, it would be an awful waffle.”
“Yes.  Do I get butter and syrup?”
“Of course, how else would you eat a waffle? Happy with your breakfast?"

"Glad I could help.  Unfortunately, all waffleness will disappear once you eat it.  Though it might not be digested yet, it will no longer be a waffle.”
She looked at me, “Can I have half the bagel too?”  

I debated cutting the half a bagel in half, but opted to just serve her the rest of breakfast.

Monday, November 20, 2017


So, this week I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my sophomore in college.  It became a family project. 

 I'd packed them in a tin and my twelve year old wrote her a note. 

Dear Marta,

Hope you like these muffins we made. There are twelve.

Love Rita.

Her brother came by and decided to make his own note. 

I ate one. --Peter
Her father wrote a note.  "I didn't.  True love. --Dad"

Her sister Faith came by and added an additional note.  "I counted.  There are still eleven.  Love you, Faith." 

and before I could pack them off, one last brother gave his two cents.

"Faith counted wrong. There are ten." --Love Will.  

I counted before  I shipped them off. There were eleven.  When did I become the straight man in my family?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Today's postings...

So it's Thursday, and I have a piece each week at  I hope you like it. 

I also have work over at the Register. Yes, I'm taking on the folks who make policy decisions over in Southbend, Indiana, with respect to discussing Catholic identity. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Today's piece over at the Register

Hello everyone.  I'd love to tell you things are slowing down but they seem to be speeding up.  This week included filling out the FAFSA, two teacher parent conferences, a meeting at the school, teaching CCD, preparing a son for state championships (running), and laundry.  I also dealt with cleaning out one closet, (finding the infamous 42 shoes without mates), and learning that Anna-Maria knows describing words.  She told me all she knew for ten minutes straight while I drove to pick up in afternoon traffic.  I love her so, but my heart sank when she announced she also knew numbers had no end, and did I want to know how she could prove it.   Parenting is often an endurance test, but more than that, it's a constant lesson on how to love more, even when we don't think we have anything to give, which brings me to my latest at the Register, dealing the Presentation at the Temple.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Origin of a Specious Argument Testing my Certifiability

Three hours and forty-seven minutes later, I have an answer.
Not one to act impulsively, I didn't come to this decision over night. Originally, I wanted a teaching certificate. My original teaching license expired in the year 2000. However, I thought having a bachelor's degree in English, a master's in Special Education and an additional 33 hours of doctoral work might make it possible to get certified again at a later date.
I won't mention the state I live in, except to say it was until recently, the state of the unbearably naive. Presuming past credentials held any merit, and past experience counted for squat, I presented my materials and received notice, I'd be tested. A year and a half, four tests and 300 plus dollars later, I still require additional proof I'm not the human equivalent of a pet rock.
I called the state. The conversation when something like this:
"We can't certify you."
"I'm already certified in Texas in Special Education."
"Yes. And you did your student teaching in Special Education."
"So I'd have to do student teaching in English to be certified in English?"
"That's one way."
"But I have a degree, a double major in English literature and writing, so shouldn't my certification in teaching apply?"
"If you were certified in Texas in English." I hung up to call my home state.
I called back.
"Hello, it's me again. If I take the test in English in the Lone Star state, they'll certify me to teach English there."
"That might work but it would take longer. You'd have to be certified there before you could be certified here."
"So my options are take the English for Texas, wait for their certification which would then make me eligible for certification here, but my Special Education certification there doesn't make me eligible for the Special Education certification here because I haven't taken the test here?"
"But the website says there is state reciprocity for teaching licenses."
"There is...after you take the test."
I squelched the idea of asking the person, "Do you even want people to teach English anymore or is this some sort of put on?"
Going to the standard test website which could smell my money before I typed in the three initials of the site, I spent twenty minutes convincing it I was who I said I was, before it let me get to the final "Shut up and take my money" button. I pushed. The site told me, "I'm sorry, there seems to be some technical problem." I called and the woman told me to use a different browser and she'd walk me through it, but after the first two hours of hassle, my people skills having eroded to something below civil. I concluded the universe in all its wisdom didn't want me in the classroom. It wanted something different.
I vowed to become a one woman vigilante against bureaucracy, Yes. I'm going to turn to a life of crime. It's simpler. There's no paperwork. I don't mind late nights if I can sleep late and I won't have to deal with becoming certified if I'm certifiable, and thus was born a new rogue superhero; Cert Denied.

*Editor's note:  Signed up for the test...taking it in January.  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

World Series Poem

Last year, I wrote a poem about the Cubs in Game Seven as it played out, line by line.  It helped that while I rooted for the Cubs, I didn't have a stake in the outcome, only the poetry.  This year, I gave my heart to the Astros, the first team I ever saw play.   They had an epic series, but my son also needed to have us shepherd him through applying for college, so I couldn't devote my attentions to either my muse or the game. 

That being said...

The Astros of Houston,
in 2017,
when the bats show up
there's no one better
they're the best that's been.

I don't have fancy words
and they didn't have fancy plays
but the Astros, they're World Champions
and that buzz will last for days.

The bases were loaded for the Dodgers
more times than I can count
but when it mattered, when we needed it
the Astros got the batters out.

Five runs seemed like too few
after epic games of 13-12.
But LA went quietly into the night
and so we now begin our revels. 

Congratulations Houston!
Texas proud and Texas strong!
Congratulations to all who willed it
and believed in you all along.

Enjoy this moment.
Walk a bit taller,
and let the pennant fly.
We're the champions, we're the champions, we're the champions!
that nobody can deny. 

Congrats Astros, World Series Champions of 2017!

What is the More?

Last week we introduced students to a memoir in which the main character (before the age of nine), started a house fire, experienced being beaten half to death, abandonment at an orphanage, starvation,  life threatening hatred based on his race, and became addicted to alcohol.  My high school charges dubbed the first two chapters of this story, “Boring.”  At which point, I wondered “What in heaven’s name would be considered interesting?”  

In my brain, the narrative formed, “The teenager stared at her phone. She received fifteen text messages and a funny gif. No one harassed her about staring at the small hand-held device in her hand. She drifted through school, not noticing the passage of time.”  Call me optimistic, but I don’t think anyone fifty years from now would find a memoir filled with “Lol’s” and emoticons as riveting or as soul scalding as the sufferings and deprivations of Richard Wright’s childhood.  Such a book would read like the Odyssey written by one of the Lotus eaters.  Something happened, then, something else did.

The question struck a nerve and wouldn’t let go.  What would catch their attention?  What would hold it? 

I listened to students in the writing lab talk.  They planned to see “Thor, Ragnarok” this weekend.  Wondering if they knew the Norse mythology behind the film, I checked the times for movie myself and asked. They didn’t.  Thor, Loki, Ragnarock were merely constructs of the Marvel Universe, like Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk.   They knew the origins from the movies, but not the reasoning behind these creations.  They didn’t view Captain America as a patriotic icon or the Hulk as an example of the destructive power of unchecked anger.

As the fantasy worlds become more real, we, the actual actors exploring these fake places via our culure, are becoming less interesting. Our world’s myths become stories without purpose or intent other than to amuse, rather like contests set up by the “Grand Champion” in the movie.  Escape in heroic movies works for a time, like staring at the phone.   Each subsequent addition to the Superhero epic genre, charms less and bores more, because it becomes only a story about a person having powers. Even the victors in the arena, (if they have any reflective capacity whatsoever) grow weary of the constant fight which must by necessity become more epic, more vital, more collossal in scale and consequently, less interesting.  Rather like facebook friendships based solely on mutual agreement in all things, interaction leaves the participant overstimulated and oddly bored, starving for something deeper without knowing what or why. Good stories never tell only the story you read.  Good stories always leave a deeper mark, like real friendships, real jobs and real romances. 

How do we get the students to the more? To the meaning?  To the marrow? What would it take to break open these words and make the world more visible? How do we break the spell of the false siren of the internet (and I realize the irony of blogging this question), and replace it with the sound of genuine souls singing?  I don't know the answer, but I do know, for every teacher, for every parent, and for every director of every film yet to come into our collective culture, that's the real question we should be asking.  How do we make a story which reveals the universal in the minute, and which carries weight and a story arc that moves people out of wanting merely to be entertained and diverted for a few minutes? 

What is the more that we're either not putting in the words, or which they are not hearing? 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What Kind of Candy Test?

It's Halloween, and before we all collectively raid our children's stashes for those coveted Almond Joys, Twix bars and Snickers, it's time to play everyone's favorite hypothetical, "What kind of candy are you?" test.

We'll get the big guns out of the way. 

Donald Trump:  "If I were a candy bar, I'd be huge, wildly popular, the most amazing candy you've ever seen." 

The researchers here at Chocolate For Your Brain know candy, and you sir, are a Payday.  Why?  Because no one wants one, no one's happy to see it in their candy stash, it's a bit nutty with a goey indeciperable center, but for some reason, it persists and pretends to be a confection everybody loves.  Even the slogan, "Everybody loves a payday." feels like a forced mantra, something the people who manufacture paydays would like everyone to believe, but again, no one has ever sighted anyone eating an actual payday.   Further, no one has ever admitted to having consumed one.

Hillary Clinton:  100 Grand.  Why?  Because she's crispy on the inside, and everyone knows it.  Also, she'd like to think she's got big clout, but 100 Grand doesn't go as far as it used to, and never became the darling the creators dreamed it might be with their slogan, "Who wouldn't like a 100 Grand?"  Like Payday, the hundred thousand dollar bar candy banks on people agreeing before they taste it, and like Hillary, the 100 Grand bar has repacked itself on multiple occasions in an attempt to garner greater popularity.   It's never worked but really, 100 Grand, One Hundred Thousand Dollar Bar, what difference does it make?

Bernie Sanders:  A Goodbar.  Most people like them when they get them, but they never actively seek them out.  They're also hard to find in the markets.  The candy's rather simple and straight forward, and yet never quite what we're looking for.

Democratic Party:  Bit-o-honey.  They insist they're not wrong.  They insist you'll love them if you just try them.  They have no interest in hearing any other point of view.   Even when you're down to the last of your Halloween stockpile, you won't touch them.

Republican Party: Jolly Ranchers.  They're hard.  They think everyone loves them.  They're always last picked and most of the time they suck, and some of the time, they bite.

Note what's missing?  Sure.  We're missing a Kitkat, a Snicker's, a Hershey's bar and a Reese Peanut Butter Cup!

Why are we missing these better candydates?   Because there isn't anything good on the menu. 

For that to happen, the candidates and political parties would have to give us a break, satisfy, put a smile on our face and work well with the other side, so two great tastes would work well together.

If I sound sour patched on the whole political process, you're right, but remember, I kid. 

Happy Halloween

So you get a treat, my latest at the Register in the Rosary Series.  I promise more writing this week, once we get past tonight.   Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sorry I've been AWOL

Here's my latest at the National Catholic Register, part of my series on the Rosary. This time, we delve into the Visitation.  Also, I'm  posting a link to last week's Small Success Thursday, "Will it until You Become it."

Where has Sherry been?  Is she still writing?  Why is she writing about herself in third person? 

She's been grading essays.  She's writing, but finds her prose is junkola, so she hasn't shared it. 

She's writing in third person rather than admit, I've spent the weekend watching sports, eating food that is not good for me and not exercising or writing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

There's a Hole in My Wallet

I love giving gift cards as presents.It's the slacker Mom in me, but as a slacker mom, it's better to give than to receive.When my kids get them, it's a constant reminder to go shopping until said child slaps that plastic down at the store. Whether they want it or not is mostly irrelevant, what matters is spending the money.
Something about birthday money triggers the gotta-spend-it-or-I'll-die gene in my children. They'll stare at their purses or banks and sigh. They drop hints about the store hours, potential sales, and even wash dishes in an attempt to butter me up. I let them. After the direct bribe attempt fails, they position themselves in front of the door to the house with my wallet and keys. They'll mention once, twice, in every conversation, via text message and even create a twitter hashtag though they don't have a twitter account, #mymomnevertakesmeshoppingandothercruelties to ensure I get the message. Before I become viral or trending, I concede to their request, but not without some soul wrestling of my own.

I know one of three things will happen: 

1) they will spend over their limit but find something they love love love such I either bankroll the difference or seem like a world class miserly curmudgeon or... 

2) Binge shopping until the card drops. 

The problem with binge shopping of this nature, is the desire to spend outweighs the actual need to acquire, but the young shoppers won't rest until the amount left on those pieces of plastic is less than a nickel. So what if we have to purchase a pack of gum they don't chew, it's worth it to have that credit card balance read .03.

Offering my own two cents, like maybe for saving the money or spending some, not all, is met with a stare that translates to "Mom, are you nuts? We did the dishes for you, of course we're going to spend it all."

 And so it comes to pass, we own a Pickachu dressed in a Pirate costume, some silly putty, pens each color of the rainbow, three t-shirts with Halloween themed designs, an umbrella festooned with ice cream cones and some Shopkins, (which are plastic foods with cute faces). The balance reads 1.39 and my daughter runs to get a tube of mini-M&M's.

 Walking out the door, carrying her bounty, my daughter remembers, "I lost my water bottle at the party." "I remember." I said.

 "Can we go back into the store so you can buy me a new one?" she asks. "I'd buy it myself but I'm all out of money."

And that's #3 of what happens. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Catch Up Saturday

Hello everyone,

I know, it's becoming a routine.  I write a piece, I link to it two or three days after it runs. This time, I have an excused absence.  On Thursday, I took a train to Southbend, Indiana.  No wi-fi.  Friday, I spent with family and friends, no time on the computer.  So today, Saturday, I'm finally slowing down enough to be able to write...and here we are. 

So if you want your SST fix, the link to's piece is here. It's called, "Begin again."

I also have a piece over at the National Catholic Register, Love Drives Out the Fear of Life. It stemmed from a conversation online, where people puzzled about why people want abortions.  To me, the reasons seemed to be as diverse as the people who have them, but the question shouldn't be why do people have them, but how do we minister to people so they won't need them or desire them.

Talking about this topic is always touchy, and the goal was to engender compassion toward the person considering the abortion. It's not perfect. It's not comprehensive.  I'm praying people recognize the goal, and don't take me to the woodshed for venturing onto the subject. But, the title reminds me love drives out fear, and so it's here for all to read. 

I hope you have a wonderful Saturday.  More writing to come.  Enjoying my trip.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Unspoken Battle

There is a great war within the general population of the Catholic church over the nature of what it means to be faithful.  It stems from a sincere desire to be "right with God."  (Proof even our loftiest desires, those we think most holy, can be the means of our failure to be faithful disciples).

With the sending of the Filial Appeal, signed by the people here, I remember Pope Benedict's prediction that the Church would grow smaller.  I suspect it is so, for the same reason many after hearing Jesus say to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him, many went away sad.  The first words of the Filial Appeal are, "It is with profound grief..." 

" Jesus even asked his apostles, "Will you go away too?"  And I wonder, where will these people go?  Will they realize they are leaving?  Will they realize, they should come back?  Do they know what they're walking away from?  Do they know what they are risking losing?  I believe they fear it, or they would not be grieved.   I suspect many are people who want the truth, but like all of us, see through a glass darkly, but think they see better than others.   How do we square God hating sin and loving us who sin?  How do we reconcile the very real reality that we want to sin, with we want to be in Heaven?   We cannot. Herein is where we get to the apex of our declaration of faith.  Do we Trust the Trinity who is God and his servant the Church, or do we trust ourselves and our judgment.  I know how poor my own judgment is...If I forget, my children can give me a litany of reminders on demand. 

However, God in His infinite mercy and love, offers us the impossible.  That is the crux of our faith and it is not secret, rather it is explosive.  God pouring ever expansive grace and mercy over the world, and seeking to gather all who would allow themselves to love God back and pulling every bit of beauty and love out into the open He can to pierce our hearts and be invited in. 

This past two weeks, I've embarked on a great experiment which tests everything. I'm teaching CCD.  Understanding and loving and reading, and learning about the faith is one thing.  Attempting to convey it in a systemic meaningful manner that doesn't get either too technical or too airy, is another. So if in my little kingdom of a classroom, it is a challenge, how much moreso for the Pope, who must deal with not merely those who do not know, and those who do not care, but those who think they know, and those who think they care more.  Whatever we present, it is inadequate, and we have to trust that grace will make up for what is lacking, but work like anything, to make sure we don't deliberately omit what is necessary. 

The experience concentrates my own understanding of Catholicism, of reducing the excess as one would refine a sauce on a stove.   Where I love the narrative Gospels, I find myself drawn to the Gospel of John when attempting to get deeper into explaining not merely our faith, but the function of our faith.  (To draw ever nearer to Christ). 

So when I reflect upon what the Catechism teaches, what our faith asks of us, it does not seem rules, it is a relationship.  In any relationship of love, be it fraternal, romantic, or intellectual, the desire is for a deeper and greater, truer and more self revealing connection.  We want to be at ease with whoseover it is with whom we seek this relationship. We want that other to know us and know us well enough to read our moods, and to know when to give us what we need, and when it should challenge us on what we want. We want it to be like breathing, where we can stay in each other's presence and not be doing anything in particular, and the time itself becomes precious for the presence. 

God is love. 
Our job, to reflect God's presence to everyone else. 
How?  By loving them as well as possible. 
How?  By seeking to be always a source of spiritual and corporeal mercy to others, by learning how to be less selfish, angry, petty, small, irked, irritated, anxious, indulgent, and demanding ourselves while at the same time, seeking to help others learn how to love and thus serve. 

It's a tall order for anyone...almost impossible...except we are talking about God being in the equation, and thus it is not only possible, it is necessary.  However, as a good friend said to me during a recent crisis, the goal is not to be "right" by God, that is to have proven your merit and value by words and deeds (see Older Brother if you need a perfect example), but to "Be" with God and delight in His presence.  (See Saint Mary at the feet of Jesus, Saint Mary Magdalene seeking to be even simply at his tomb Easter Morning, see Saint John the Baptist's first response to Jesus from the womb).   These examples were not of people doing their duty or obligations or following rules, these were people displaying without any pretense, love for Christ.  If we sit with Christ, if we sit at His feet, we will find our place, and others will as well.  It is when we will our own path that we get lost.  It is the constant unspoken battle inside of every soul, whether we know it or not. It is a battle already won, if only we surrender.

Today I'm talking about...

the second Luminous mystery, the wedding feast at Cana. Come join me at the National Catholic Register, and help further the discussion on the mysteries of the Rosary.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

It's the End of the World...or Not

Every few years some person no one has ever heard of, gains national attention with the age old prediction, "The world ends tomorrow." It's funny how people can work the numbers, roll the bones, or read the stars to discern, the end is near and yet, never in the math, the dice or the heavens do these same souls receive instructions like, "The world will keep going. Carry on. Carry on...."

It's almost like none of these folks whistling past the Earth's graveyard really commit to their own predictions. They aren't engaged in either extreme hedonism as a last hurrah, nor are they submitting themselves to final purification. It's just another day at the office which begs the question, what are they really selling and why is anyone buying?

I also fault the reporters who likewise, don't take this story they're pumping out into the internet seriously. They're in it for the shock. If they wanted to make real news though, they'd commit to the concept...Dr. Falsity, what can we do? I've got my survival gear, my bunker and enough MRE's for three generations. We'll be finishing the broadcast from inside our sealed cavern. The lock is time shut, so we won't be seen for twenty-five years. We're happy to have you as one of our few honored guests...." and watch the man try to figure a way out of being locked in for two and a half decades.

Alternatively, I dream of some newscaster asking some serious analytical questions of these not even right twice a day broken doomsday clock watchers. Something like: "So if this is true, why aren't you spending the last night on this planet with your family, enjoying a fine meal, exhausting every last reserve you have on your 401K since it won't matter tomorrow?" or "Why aren't you on your knees in penance if you think this is the reckoning?" Pulitzer would go to the daring journalist who asks, "Why are you working the news cycle and asking people to buy your book? It's not like they'll have time to read it, even if they pay for expedited shipping and handling." and demands a full refund for failure to produce promised product by the end of the business day.

I'd love to see the next rapturous predictor of Armageddon hit with "We've got two professors from MIT here, and an astrophysicist from NASA. They'd like to check your data, your math and your findings." and drop in a little public service announcement. "We here at channel whatever it is, we investigate fraud. Deceiving the public and creating a panic or riot on the public airways is punishable by state, local and federal laws, in some cases with fines and jail time of up to five years. I'm sure you Sir have nothing to worry about." and crank up the R.E.M. as you fade out to commercial break.

But to prove I'm fair and show I do take their concerns somewhat seriously, I've eaten all the emergency chocolate.  After all, I'd hate to see it go unconsumed.  That would be a waste. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Call Me Maybe?

The other day, my daughter texted me while I had four of my kiddos at a special event.   MOM!  All caps made me concerned.   "MOM!"  Why wouldn't she explain why she did that?  Why did she feel the need to spell it twice?  "What's going on?" I typed.   The response came after a few minutes.

"My stomach hurts."

I typed back..."Have some ginger ale.  Put on comfortable clothes. Rest."

She sent back, "Please get ginger ale."
I didn't answer.
"Are you going to get ginger ale?"

"Yes. Go lie down."  I brought home ginger ale.  She'd fallen asleep and felt fine when I got home.

On following day, a different child chose to use the wonders of modern technology to let me know of all the wrong doing she felt another child had done which had gone unreported, complete with emojii's about a circumstance which took place a week prior.

I wrote back, there's a sell by date for tattling, and for all of the reported offenses, that date expired.  I don't think she appreciated my Solomonistic ruling.

Techology designed to make life easier has made it easier for my kids to let me know, "How may I serve."  However, the connection is a little too good. I may want a less effective network for peace o f mind or peace from mine.  I may need to switch from my carrier to a carrier pidgeon.

My older son mastered the art of texting a grocery list to me in little bits, while I'm at the store.
"Are you at the store?"

"Good.  Can you get...
Protein shakes?

Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it.  No.
"Why not?"
"It's yucky."
"It's healthy."
"This is not a wish list of what you want to eat for the next week."

Chocolate milk?
"Why not?  It's yummy.  Or I'll take kale."

I typed back, this is a five items or less request line.  I thought myself clever until the others gamed the system..

So I got a new text message from a different child.

Salt and Vinegar chips?
French bread?
Cookies and Cream Ice Cream?
Cinnamon Toast Crunch...she stopped at five.

They handed the phone to the youngest.

Apple juice?

They're working the room, she used please in a text.

From a third party in the car, who just remembered what she needs in terms of school supplies...
Three types of high lighters, graph paper, a pocket folder and don't forget to get bottled water.

I get a message from  home from the oldest who heard I'm at the store and did a quick survey to see what we might need.

"Dear Mom,

Don't forget, we need Pull ups and napkins.
We're out of cascade and down to our last roll.
of paper towels.  And what's for dinner? If you get ground beef, I'll grill burgers."

At this point, I'm reduced to text messaging, and send back "K" without even giving a period.

He types back, "It's wierd when you don't use a full sentence."

I'd gone to the store for bananas, diet coke and foil.  The text messages distract me into remembering, we should get butter too.  But my grocery list which was a mere 3-4, is now clocking out at twenty-seven.

Standing in line to check out, I get a text from a child unaware of all the prior messages.  "How much longer until you come home? I'm hungry."

Yesterday and Today

It's becoming a running gag, that I don't get to Small Success Thursday until Friday.  Still, it's not Saturday, so I'll consider that a small success for next week.  

Also, I have a piece over at the National Catholic Register. It's the beginning of a series meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.  I'm working on the next one, but these I hope will allow people to delve deeper into each mystery.  They're not in order....yet.    They're as I go meditations, based on whatever one keeps presenting itself in front of me.  

One last thing:  Last week, I wrote about a woman who only needed a dollar fifty-five, discussing how when we encounter need, we should act.  It's very easy these days, to discover need.  One would have to be willfully blind to not see.  If your heart is stirred, pray, then act accordingly.  If we all give even the widow's mite, we can together be one of the drops in an ocean of God's mercy for someone...and that's the goal, to be a drop.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Small Success Thursday on Thursday!!!

I know, I know....shocker.

I'm grateful for my family.  They've been solid as we got through three of the four open houses we must attend.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Blocking Writing

Every once in a while, I get an undisclosed melancholy which accompanies acute writers' block.

My writing coach doesn't believe such a thing as writers' block exists.  He cajoles, "Write about what a jerk I am for saying otherwise if nothing else." in fewer words.

I can, but the goal of writing isn't to merely be clever, the point is to discover something within the uncarved marble of the mind, which when fully chiseled out, is beautiful and solid and worth preserving.  So I sat musing, why do I want to find these beautiful words, what's the point of it?

Is it glory for me?  Well, I'll admit, it really was and used to just be...because part of me, a part I'm not overly proud of, felt myself somehow trivial.  It's not a nice thought, that I belittled my own vocation in my own eyes.  I wonder if I did so to my children too.

Being published was something of a rush, still is, but like any addiction, it satisfies less with each hit, because I find myself scrambling to carve out the next piece.  Good poems are never finished, only abandoned.  Good columns, well, I find they all look like prom pictures.  In the moment, they are beautiful, cool, and I want to share them with everyone.  In the glare of the next day, under the gaze of time and judgment, I find them less lovely, more awkward and indicative of all the ways in which I don't know myself or my own faults than anything else.   Do I still want to write columns? Yes.  I'd just like them to be more thoughtful, less rushed.  Not sure how to do that...

I do know why I began.  It began as an escape.  Everyone else goes to school or work and I was here, decade after decade, folding socks, doing dishes, working out at the gym sometimes and wondering, where is the more?  What is the more?  Why can't I do more?  God laughed at my feeling insignificant and gave me more...and more...and more...until I stopped thinking, I want to do more and started saying, "I want to do something different."  God gave me more...and it was different.  So I stopped saying "I want."  

I started working at a high school and found myself wishing for the minutes at home, not because I didn't like the work or the people or the job, but because I now couldn't pour out the minutes like water on my family.  I couldn't justify holing up with the computer to write when I'd been away all week, but when I'd get to the weekend, I didn't want to pour out the minutes like water, I felt somehow, shouldn't I keep them?

 Reminded of Bilbo and the ring, I horded minutes, when that was precisely what I should not do.  At which point, I understood my own weaknesses.  A child cannot comprehend why they cannot eat all the candy.   They just know, they want it.  So I'm praying, God, be merciful and do not give me what I want, but what you want.  Otherwise, please please please, don't listen to me.  Ignore me.    

So what is the point of all of this? Why do you write Sherry?

So I can learn what I'm supposed to be doing, why, and how to go about doing it. I told my writing coach.  He said, "I could have fixed it much faster if you'd just written about what a jerk I am."

Next time.

Your Irony Supplement for the Day

For those who don't know, I started up work this week.  I'd say this explains the tardiness in posting links to publications but I was tardy in posting links to publications all summer, so that can't be the reason.    The topic of my most recent piece over at the National Catholic Register only adds to the irony of being late. Enjoy. 

And we'll just call this the "Small Success Thursday not-posted on Thursday link."  Since the title of that one is "Thank God for the Mess." I'll consider this blog an additional opportunity to be both ironic and thankful.   See?  My whole life is in service to your entertainment.  When I'm not writing these pieces up, I'm living in such a manner as to give them additional context.  The things I do for you people....

On a more sober note, please pray for all those recovering from Hurricanes, and those in their path now.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Two-Fer Friday

Yes, I know, I didn't link up to Small Success Thursday yesterday.  I admit, I was preoccupied by the news. My hometown of Beaumont, Texas has been on all the channels lately, owing to Hurricane Harvey.  I'd writtten my friend Mark Shea to ask him to pray.  He did me one better, he took my worries and fears and asked all his readers to pray too. 

At the time, I honestly felt very fearful for Beaumont.  This storm has already broken so many records and destroyed so many homes, and when they lost water, I wondered if we'd lost Beaumont. I admit, I went to adoration and my heart howled.  The words floated into my heart, Jesus is in the boat. You knew, there would be storms.  You also know, He's in the boat with you.

The howls went away, and the news from Beaumont brightened.  They still have a long way to go to even sort of get to normal, but I was reminded once again, of the steel in the bones of these people, and the gold of their hearts.

I'll brag as an older sister, that my siblings and their families in Texas are busy finding people to help, and calling others to do the same.   They live out what I'd written about in the aftermath of that time in adoration:  In Great Storms and Little Struggles, Be Christ to One Another.  Have a great weekend! Pray for all those recovering from the storm, and help out if you can, any way that you can.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Over at the Register and....

today's piece deals with being who we are called to be, both in real life and online. 

So today, pray for those who are either recovering from Harvey or still weathering its effects.  The rain from this storm is beyond anything anyone could have prepared to endure.  Houston receives 51 inches of rain in a year, and received as much in a single weekend.  

If you can give, right now what is needed is funding, to purchase cots, food, and basics.  Once the water recedes, it will be more patchwork.  I'm talking to a friend who works with a large charitable organization and she's promised to let me know what they need, once they've done an assessment.  She admits, right now assessment alone is overwhelming.  

There are a slew of good articles out there about what people don't need like this one here.  My fellow writer, Mark Shea did the hard work for you and came up with a linked list of agencies providing relief.  So if you're looking for ways to help Texas, you can go here. 

The big issue of this storm is rain.  Water gets into everything, and you have to redo everything to make it home again.  So pray for everyone who is in the path, and hope the rain ends soon.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Two Pieces for You for the Weekend

First, here's yesterday's link to Small Success Thursday

Small Success Thursday 

Hello everyone! It's Sherry Antonetti, here with some big news about Small Success Thursday! We're planning to have the weekly piece on both the site and on Facebook. It will make it easier for people to participate and share with others the opportunity to count your blessings each week. By posting your past week's blessings, you encourage others who might be having similar trials and triumphs. Additionally, cultivating gratitude encourages us the same way writing down goals helps one reach them, having a food diary helps one diet, and writing a letter rather than an email leaves a deeper impression. Telling the world what you are grateful for helps remind others to be grateful as well; it grows gratitude. Please consider being part of this weekly "Online Gratitude Journal" by posting three things from the past seven days for which you want to 1) give thanks to God and 2) share with the community of readers. Thanks for reading and being part of Small Success Thursday!

Also, I have a piece today over at The National Catholic Register on Down Syndrome and Unicorns.  I'm hoping that quirky description encourages you to go read and share it.

In case you're wondering if this time, it's not actually bad, it's just It's not good.

Lastly, please please Pray for those in the path of Hurricane Harvey. I look at the models and think flood. Flood. Flood! and it makes me very nervous for everyone. It won't be the wind, it will be the rain that causes destruction this time around, and I'm worried.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Big Push App, Wish It Were Downloadable

Some kids are born repsonsible.  They get up on time, they go to bed on time.  They brush their teeth on a daily basis. Some of them even floss.  Yes, I know from my time on the internet reading Mommy blogs that most parents' children do their homework with little fuss, their clothes are organized by drawer and color, and they willingly consume raw beets and edemae as mid day snack.  Some of them tie their shoes at the tender age of four months and say their ABC's in utero.

My kids...well as of this point, I know one is wearing a Pikachu costume because it is warm.  It's August.   Another claims playing Civilization VI will help with AP history.  A third explained he's very good at creating art in Minecraft.  I'm not sure what skills that might translate to in the non pixelated world, but his siblings are impressed.  Ninety percent of parenting is playing the game, "What's my motivation?" so I've compiled some analogies from popular culture to help motivate all my kids to get ready for school again, using cool geeky references like all the kids do these day.  Failing that, I will speak in text, and that should do it.  

You should get your summer work done because....why?...well consider the alternative.

The Star Wars Imperative: 

Fill out the common ap now, or join us and live here forever.  It is your destiny.  Choose. It helped that I have loud breathing as a matter of course in my speech.  The sound track in the background was my husband's idea.  I love him.

The Pokemon Quest, Will You Please Go Now? 

Son. You want to be the very best, like no one every was.  On some campus somewhere, are Pokemon for you to catch with your phone.  Stay here, and your dad and I will cite Team Rocket's motto to you night and day.  Here's the link for the common ap.  Surrender now...

Fortunately, the photos of me as Jesse of Team Rocket from Halloween 2000 were destroyed in a freak accident when the disposable camera met its end, having been accidentally left on top of the mini-van.  I, and the internet, are forever grateful.  

Lego my Ego

This is 100% true.  All of it.  You are the special. You can do amazing things.  I want you to do amazing things. So....finish your work without me having to hover or I'll "kraggle" you to the chair to get it done.   Love, Mom.

Now I could push this, show montages of characters from Spiderman to Officer Judy Hops to Remy from Ratatoulie to illustate that anything we want which is important, anything that matters, demands more than we think it will, and pushes us beyond what we thought we could do.  But I think kiddos, you get the point.  You have to do this, and I don't mind if you reward yourself with mindcraft or civ or magic or whathave you, but you do have to do something beyond what is easy, or your life once you leave home, will be harder than it has to be. put another way, reaching into your own family lore:  "Now is the time to start the big push."

Love, Mom. 

P.S.  I promised I'd do it.  git 2 wrk

Saturday, August 19, 2017

What to do

Leah Libresco Sargeant writes a beautiful article discussing what we as Christians should do in light of Charlottesville.  She presents a lovely way of examing how to 1) create genuine peace and 2) be an authentic witness and 3) offer correction to those in grave error.  You go and you interact with these people, you learn their names, their fears, their loneliness, and you ask questions, you seek to get at what it is they think, and to present a living counter argument without argument.  Please, go read it.  It's so worth it.

There is a great rage in this country and a gleeful glowering joy at pointing out sinners, and saying to the crowd, "These ones, it's okay to stone.  Pick up your rocks."   But the reality is, to those who show mercy, mercy shall be theirs.  Mercy is the gift we give, the grace we allow to flow through us, not when it is deserved, but precisely because it isn't.   Jesus is still reaching out, even from the cross before His death, to enter into relationship with us, to bring us to the right place, to heal our broken hearts.  We are to do the same, whether it's racism or anything else.   That's a tall order, a hard order,  an order only possible to fill through grace, by grace, and so as to receive grace.

So don't blast with holy wrath or excommunicate a friend for failing to see the evil you see, ask them what they see.  Ask them why.  Ask them their fears, their concerns. Go out to lunch and find all the spaces in between, all the points where their gifts are, so as to see their true faces, which are not only the sins we know.  

Yes, these views must be challenged, must be countered, but the only way to stop hate, is not to stomp people into the ground, but to show a better way.  It may seem obvious to you, but that's the nature of sin.  It blinds us to others. It blinds us to good. It clouds the heart, and so we see through a glass darkly.  As Leah sagely notes, when you don't think anyone can see anything but the sin, it is hard to embrace anything else.

Be the option out, be the refuge, be the source of light that helps people cast off these views and the world will be brighter for it.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Pieces to Link to Today

I'm taking a break from Facebook, but not writing.  So I'm letting you know where you can find my latest pieces.  One is about what we need to do in the face of being bombarded so often with reckless hate, with a rage that seems to never exhaust itself, and which seems to surround virtually all discourse, all reality right now.  

You have been hired out. Time to get to work.

Second, is the link to Thursday's Small Success Feature over at on Facebook.

Have a great day.  Enjoy these dog days of summer, they're fading fast.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Grace Can Pierce Stone

Driving my daughters to an appointment, we began a discussion about an article I read about a course where the students studied hate crimes, and in the process, encountered someone who had begun to repent, and who had from some, received the gift of forgiveness.  As my friend who sent me the article said, "No matter what we think about other people, change is amazingly possible."

The thoughts, "Grace can pierce stone. Grace can pierce the emptiness of years.  Grace, like water can seep through the tiniest cracks in the armor of the soul. Grace, like air, comes unseen, and we discover how necessary it is for life." kept running through my mind as I drove, and I repeated the thoughts as images in my head so I wouldn't forget.

The girls sat discussing how they'd write to someone who was incarcerated for hate crimes, and what they would say.   They weren't sure it would be just to be generous or forgiving to people who committed such grave offense, when those who were injured by the offenses still might bear scars from the events.  But God gives mercy to Cain, marking Him with a sign to all the world, this son I love, this son I will protect.  Despite Cain's sin against his brother and God, God offers him not merely mercy, but ongoing mercy for his life.  Grace is in essence, God's limitless love, manifested as mercy, upon us, His limited creatures.

Mercy remains, as Pope Francis constantly reminds us, amazingly possible for all who seek for it.  This does not mean the grace is won in an instant, for always, God wants us to go deeper and deeper into relationship with Him.  For that to happen, sometimes, we need the cross of time, so as to lean more solidly on God than ourselves.  We do not receive mercy via anything but God's generosity.  It reflects both God's heart, and the extent to which the soul of the person extending forgiveness or forbearance, is molded by God's heart.

Mercy manifested in this world by one person to another, remains to those who lack faith, hope and/or mercy, a mystery that amounts to foolishness.  Mercy manifested in this world from one person to another, viewed by the outsider who knows love, hope, and/or faith, remains a mystery, but a celebrated luminous joyful wondrous one,  It makes more sense than the sensible response the world would "understand," and thus is both impossible to explain, and more normal, more natural, more magnificent than what might be deemed just, fair or appropriate.

So today, as it is August 11th, the day I asked Catholic bloggers to offer penance and prayer for peace, both in their homes and hearts, and in the world both online and out there, I am praying for peace, for the whole world to be bathed in mercy, so that it might become more real and more natural, more what it was always intended to be.   Such a reality would be amazing, all the more so, because it is possible.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Plea for All of Us to Pray for All of Us

The Catholic blogosphere is as diverse as the Church itself, with people who wrestle earnestly with issues both big and small, but who try always to be Catholic in their response to life and all the people living in it.  We aren't always successful.  Being like any family, we have fights, we fail, we forgive, we pull away, we mess up.  However only when we have our right and left hands together, can we be fully in prayer, fully seamless, fully the Universal Church we are all called to be.

Above all, we want this world which is God's gift to all of us, to go on, allowing future generations to discover Christ both in the sacraments and in each other, in service and in prayer.  That can only happen if the people here now, work for peace, both in our own hearts, and in the world.   As part of the overly talkative patient wing of the hospital for sinners, who believe part of our vocation, is both to learn and educate about the Catholic faith, it is time we came together in prayer. In the core of each Catholic, I know there is more than a mustard seed of faith, waiting for us to ask. I also know, harder things require more than mere prayer and faith, but atonement, for some demons do not go out except by prayer and fasting. We have a world full of unrest even absent the current sabre rattling in North Korea, and we need to get to the work of being the Body of Christ to others.  We can only do that by being deliberate in seeking grace.  Who doesn't want more genuine peace and grace in the friendships in their lives, both online and in real life?


We do not have worldly power, but we have something much greater.  We have the King of Peace, and we have His blessed mother, the sacraments and the saints. So I am asking all Catholic bloggers everywhere, at the Reporter and the Register, at Aleteia and Crux, Catholicmom and Catholic Digest, Catholic columnists both independent and syndicated, new and established.  Calling all writers from America and the Catholic Stand, at Patheos, New Advent, Big Pulpit and the Catholic Conspiracy, Church Militant and anywhere they may be found, to ask their readers to consider praying and fasting this Friday, August 11th, for peace in this world, on the internet, in families, and between nations. Joyce said of the Catholic Church, "Here comes everybody." Well, we need everybody.

 Jesus told us to ask and we shall receive, seek and we shall find, and that collectively, we should be able to mustard up a mustard seed, and maybe transform a mountain of problems into molehills.  

How to participate:
1) Decide you will dedicate this Friday to penance and prayer and fasting for peace in our hearts and across the world.
2) Offer a fasting of a particular kind for the whole day; something which you either treasure, or which you know is a barrier to your own prayer life. It can be something as familiar as diet coke or Facebook, it can be refraining from snark, it can be meat, it can be your phone or television or anything which you surrender for 24 hours, as a gift in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
3) Invite others, both in real life and online to do the same, and write your own post of why and what.  We are all small. We are all at the very least, half of mustard seeds, but together, we can move mountains.

If you don't know what to do, here are a few ideas:
30. Pray for all our leaders, and all those in power.  Spend time with the Blessed Mother, asking her intercession in their hearts.
29.  Figure out what you cling to, what you have made an idol or an addiction, and ask all of Heaven to help you let go.
28. Read the life of a saint.
27.  Review and renew your baptismal vows and confirmation promises.
26. Read the daily readings to your family at the dinner table.
25. Make a gift of yourself to your family today. Following the wisdom of Saint Therese of Lisieux, picking up pins for love.
24. Watch or listen to a podcast on Forgiveness.  Fr. John Ricardo's talks on this matter are excellent.
23. Call your pastor, ask what the Parish needs you to do.
22. Do an examination of conscience from your earliest memory to now, and ask for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
21. Pray for the souls in purgatory, arrange to offer a mass.
20.  Fast.  Pray for peace each time you remember, you're hungry.
19.  Smile at each person you encounter, and whisper a prayer in your heart for each person you see.
18.  Spend time with your children, playing on their level.
17.  Invite someone to join you for mass.
16.  Offer your unique talents as a gift to your local pregnancy center or soup kitchen or parish, or a neighbor in need.  Set it up as an ongoing
15.  Invite someone you know could use a friend, out to lunch. Listen.
14.  Read the catechism on Just War.
13.  Venerate a relic. Ask for the saint's intercession.
12. Make a pilgrimage to a local chapel or shrine.
11. Begin the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.
10. Go to adoration for an hour.
9. Divine Mercy Chaplet
8. Spend some time reading the Psalms.
7. Donate clothing to a local shelter.
6. Go to mass.
5. Pray a family rosary.
4. Give alms.
3. Make a confession.
2. Read some of the writings of the Doctors of the Church.
1. Perform one of the Spiritual or Corporeal Acts of Mercy.

There are as many ways to fast or give alms or make atonement as there are saints, and with all of us, we should hit all of them.   The goal is peace, of the kind we can only ask for, the only kind worth receiving.   Let's get to work.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Over at the Register

It's important to bring little children to mass.  Why?  So we can learn important lessons like How to approach Holy Communion like a little child.  I can't wait to see what they teach me next week.  Thanks Anna, Thanks Paul...and yes, there will be donuts.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

List-less equals Lost

After decades of trying, I know, the think system is not a viable method for me for getting anything going, but making a list, that works wonders.  Somehow writing down "laundry," helps laundry get done.  Somehow writing down "upstairs patrol," helps me climb the stairs.  I cannot explain it except to say, if I don't write down vacuum, there's a more than 90 percent chance the vacuum and I will not cross paths.  

Even writing down things like exercise or write, things which I affirmatively need to or want to do, increases the prospect of those things happening.  Not always, but more than I would care to admit.  Otherwise, the day can just sort of get away from me and at the end of it, I can't honestly say what happened.  But if I write the thing down, it gets done, and I remember.  

So I started testing the system, to see if putting down more ambitious things like, de-clutter desk or get through paper work with this list and what do you know, it does. If it worked with putting things down which are self serving, like house cleaning, or de-cluttering or exercise, work on the list, what would happen if I put something else down, like get a column published a year.  Well, I did an analysis, and I've had 27 pieces thus far run in on-line papers.  That's 27 out of 30 weeks, having a column.  

I put read to children, and gave each of the youngest four a slot.  Somehow I found time and it happened on that day. I put say a rosary.  It happened.  I put practice the piano. The same 24 hours that I normally find overwhelming, somehow got everything going if only I wrote the list.  It even worked when I misplaced my calender and had to write it in a spiral notebook, but what never worked, was ever NOT writing it down.

The only one for which it didn't work, was exercise.  My guess is, it wasn't specific enough.  My will to sloth apparently is slightly stronger than my will to obedience to the list.   So I threw down the gauntlet.  I wrote, walk four miles, knowing I normally sluff through three.  It helped. I did three and a half.  

My kids have grown wise to the system too, and they'll put down get ice cream or go to the library, and when they're on the list, you know what, it happens.  I'm hoping they internalize sooner than I did (it took four decades), the power of the list over listlessness, and make their own.  In which case, I'm going to add to theirs...make your bed, read a book, give mom foot rub.  

I'll keep you posted.  

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