Monday, September 26, 2016


I just spent the last ten minutes looking at paintings of "The Visitation" (of the Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist). It is a wonderful exercise, you should try it. There are all shapes and colors of Mary and Elizabeth (although not nearly as many gray-haired Elizabeths as I had imagined!). How wonderful that we are all able to see these great figures look like us. Was the Blessed Mother Chinese? No, but, remember Acts, Chapter 2? The Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost and enabled them to speak in different languages, so that all would understand. If an African person wants to see an African Mary and Elizabeth in order to understand, so be it.

The Visitation, by Mariotto Albertinelli
I have this in my mind because, after Mass, not seeing the regular rosary group, our small tribe headed down to the Eucharistic chapel to pray. As always, I was assigned #2 (I don't mind...especially today) and it was active in my mind as I prayed...

- Here is Elizabeth, rejoicing that her cousin is carrying the Savior of the world.
- Elizabeth, again, grateful that her child, John the Baptist (forerunner of Christ) leaps in her womb
- Elizabeth's big role in the Christ story is to take part in a miraculous conception in order to produce her son...certainly more than a cameo but hardly a staring role...she rejoices that she can play some part, her part.

Today's first reading is from Job:
One day, when the angels of God came to present themselves before the LORD,
Satan also came among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Whence do you come?”
Then Satan answered the LORD and said,
“From roaming the earth and patrolling it.”
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job,
and that there is no one on earth like him,
blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?”
But Satan answered the LORD and said,
“Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?
Have you not surrounded him and his family
and all that he has with your protection?
You have blessed the work of his hands,
and his livestock are spread over the land.
But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has,
and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.”
And the LORD said to Satan,
“Behold, all that he has is in your power;
only do not lay a hand upon his person.”
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

Then, of course, Satan goes out to wreak all kinds of havoc on poor Job (this is an excellent example for those people you meet that think Satan is not an active force to be dealt with daily. If you think he's a passive spirit, you could not be more wrong). Job, having lost everything he had and loved, realizes the important thing still remains...

Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back again.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!
How many of us, losing everything, would be praising God? There was a story today of the lack of despair on the part of two people who had their luggage stolen while traveling.  They continued on their journey without trepidation. Indeed, this should be our response in everything...ultimate trust in the goodness and protection of Our Father in heaven.

I'm currently reading The Spiritual Combat. It talks of the essential need to have total distrust in ourselves and total trust in God.
THE PRESUMPTUOUS MAN is convinced that he has acquired a distrust of himself and confidence in God, but his mistake is never more apparent than when some fault is committed. For, if he yields to anger and despairs of advancing in the way of virtue, it is evident that he has placed his confidence in himself and not in God. The greater the anxiety and despondence, the greater is the certainty of his guilt.
It's easy to say and clearly, difficult to do. Earlier today, upon hearing that my best laid plans have come to naught, I did feel disappointed. So, I have to turn back, seek forgiveness for the thought that I had control over the situation, and turn it all over to Him. Ultimately it's His fight anyway. (This is true, no matter what the subject, by the way). We should work to do all in our power to advance virtue and right but also recognize that the final result is not in our power. We are in the world with so many other people and everyone attends to their own priorities, whether or not they advance virtue and right. From that view, no one will have the ability to achieve any lasting success without a Greater Power, mainly the Creator of all things.

Elizabeth, in her acceptance of God's will in conceiving and bearing John, her joy at Christ's Incarnation, and her satisfaction with her given role, "got it". She understood being small in the face of God's Largeness. Her trust in His work through her life is immense. She, like Job, rejoices, in the part she plays within God's grand design.The trials and questions do not dissuade...and ultimately they are richly rewarded. What a wonderful thought as we travel this valley of tears.

We are blessed.

Saturday, September 24, 2016


Today was day two of Duquesne University's homecoming. It was a special day because I was there, retracing some of my steps, and giving thanks for all of the lessons God has taught me since I walked out of the Palumbo Center as a graduate...twenty-five years ago.

Truthfully, in some ways, it seems like twice that long but mostly it seems like it was the day-before-yesterday. Wow, a quarter century. Wow.

So, I took my family and we had a fun few hours. Tomorrow we will gather with other alumni for Mass and say goodbye for another year. Ah, your undergraduate Alma Mater...there is just something so special about that place.

Some pictures from today's fun...

Giant slide with almost no line...


the centurion and his princess ;0)

Captain America playing a game

These two had laser-like accuracy and won three goldfish...during bedtime prayer #3 was grateful, "that we finally have a pet." Please, God, let them live longer than the hermit crabs!

Until we get to the pet store on Monday, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael will have to make do in their tight quarters. Life is funny...I doubt when I brought it home from the bar 23 or so years ago, I would have ever guessed it would house the goldfish my kids had won.
 "The Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road." - Karen Blixen, Out of Africa
 We are blessed.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Every now and then I fall apart...

nothing, really, I was just listening to the '80s station while doing the mad-cleaning-dash-while-everyone-else-was-gone and Bonnie Tyler came on. Curiously, it served as a very good anecdote to the I'm-exhausted-please-just-let-me-be-a-childless-single-woman again moment. Whatever gets the shower scrubbed...

I was having that moment because the week had already exhausted me and we were just starting on the packed weekend. Gratefully, DH was there to pick up that slack and I got my schoolwork and housework done.

Some totally random flashbacks from the week, so I can reflect when I get some time. hah.

Exercise and Dental Health
I had mentioned that we went to a cross country meet last week so, keeping my promise, "the twins" and I headed south to the trail to get a little walk/jog thing going.

About .20 miles into our 1.5 mile jaunt, Blondie stops and shouts, "My tooth! My tooth!" Her second front tooth (the first was lost at church over a year ago) has been trying to come out for a while now. Of course it would come out just then. That's how we roll around here. (In fact, #2 just walked in proudly waving his tooth...he's been missing all the money that the others have been raking in).

She is the one, in my opinion, most likely to push out a 10-lb-baby, if God provides that trial one day. She swished her mouth out with water, tucked the tooth in her brother's pocket, and went on with her run. When I suggested she was a bit young to start this whole training routine because she wanted to walk when it was time to jog, she took off for almost two minutes of a sub-7 minute mile. She's feisty, that one.

They pretend they don't like one another at home but, really, they're best buds. 

Fantastic Field Trip

Wednesday, we again fought the traffic into town for one of the best field trips I've been on...probably ever. It was given by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and covered the Strip District during the Great Depression...aka, an Immigrant Story. We started at St. Patrick's and walked in and out of shops, noting architecture, history and social facts (including the banana warehouse explosion) then ended up at St. Stanislaus. Fabulous tour. Even little man thought so (when we were feasting on biscotti and pepperoni rolls post-jaunt). 
In the grotto with God rays and sweet Bernadette

Wholey's lightning-fast filleter (is that a word?)
1958 mural in the spice shop (it showed the Ft. Pitt bridge under construction)
Our final stop...I love it. The Stations are in Polish!
In the days before reality TV

What better way to spend a moonlit night in the car waiting for daddy to finish his meeting? The older kids are fascinated with Lost in Space right now. For me, it's one of the most hysterical things I've seen in quite a while. The most shocking thing? It ran between 1965 and 1968 and the year they were purportedly lost in space? 1997! You know you're old Still funny, tho.
They wore the shiny suits for the first 4 episodes

 Then, purple and green boots! groovy.

Heading to College

Friday began our weekly trek to St. Vincent college for Step Up classes. I love, love, love this program (OK, maybe only 2 loves since I wish it were at Duquesne instead). The little boy even paid some attention to Mass instead of dropping all the kneelers and falling asleep. It is a wonderful journey to end our week, reunite with old friends, walk through the Holy Door and ask God's blessing on our studies. Perfect.
Lighting a candle for a dear lady's recovery post-surgery

football practice and a bag of gummy worms...perfect prelude to Mass (maybe that's why he didn't fall asleep!)
  Weird, nature stuff

See the green thing that looks like it was rolled in rice? That, is a tomato hornworm. It seems they crawl around causing ruin among tomato and other nightshade plants. I think it is humorous that we just found this one, since I "harvested" (i.e. tore out ) my entire garden last week. Anyway, the hornworm, after chomping down your tomatoes, eggplants, etc., becomes a
Sphingidae (hawk moth, sphinx moth)...a rather weird looking thing that appears to be what would happen if a humming bird and moth would mate. I've seen them around in years past but not recently.

I guess I won't, either, since the white grains on that guy's back are actually braconid wasp eggs, which will slowly feed on the worm as they grow, eventually resulting in the worm's death. Nature is fascinating and and be merry for tomorrow a wasp will lay fifty eggs on you and you will die a slow, tortured death.

Saturday Virtues

This was the first monthly meeting of Little Flowers/Blue Knights/Little Women Hospitality Club. It was the first time they all met on Saturday. That was fantastic because it meant I could dance around to the 80's and clean my house while my little people were with their dad learning all sorts of good things about Saints, virtues, crafts, and cooking. God bless the husband and wife who take all these wild little people on. I asked Blondie about her half-made pillow, "it's not done...was it frustrating?" "yes" "did you cry?" silence followed by crying "it was so hard...don't talk about it, it makes me cry" lol. I'm laughing because a minute later she was babbling about how many other girls in the class share her name. I told you, the people are saints.

I'm just happy because my first-born came home bearing a container of oatmeal mix and a huge smile. It warms my heart when she gets together with these girls. I love that smile. 
little woman of hospitality
Today was a well-earned day of rest. I am grateful for a bit of crazy during the week so we can center ourselves again on Sunday. Mass was celebrated by our beloved priest, we chatted with friends, and the kids played together all day (yes, I wrote lesson plans but at least the cleaning was done!). We prayed for all those in need, especially those who are ill, recovering, or traveling in another country(!). How blessed we are by this life...trials and joys. God is so good. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wishes and Reality

I love C.S.Lewis...he makes everything sound better :0)

we are blessed.