Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Screech...

I was thinking about a tire, then I looked it up to check the spelling and saw the definition:
(of a person or animal) give a loud, harsh, piercing cry.
then I realized, it's a perfect title. So, this first...a recap of some of the last month+
5 weeks of practice then a really wonderful brass camp

my tiny one's prescription for my whining...he's right

we headed across the state to NJ to visit "great" uncle Frank...he's 92 and alone in the world (he has two nephews and a niece...we're the closest) I'm not complaining, at all, about visiting him. I so wish he lived closer. It is so good for all of us to spend time.

he is a dear man

we even had a pseudo-picnic on the turnpike


before U.F., we got to our first game of the season (yes, it was hawaiian night!) we didn't see any baseball. the clouds opened about 15 minutes later.

but it was a great field and the kids meals were served on frisbees ;0)

we've also been looking at houses...many, many houses

some with really, incredible outside space

so, dh& i have begun tearing apart our house...in hopes of selling it for a bit more

down come the plaster and 100-year-old lath

dirty, dusty

difficult job...but, in some ways, cathartic
 we also started school...
hard for me to believe, really




last year of middle school...amazing.
There are many days when I ask God what He was thinking, giving a 40-something five little ones to raise. I will be 50 in just over 4 months and it's crashing down - I don't have the stamina, mental or physical, that I did in the past decade. It's really, really trying around here lately. Something needs to change (or, in His love for me, God will make it change). So, I will do my little bit to draw everyone back to where we need to be...

Starting with me. It's always a fight to get "my time" around here. My kids, thanks to God, come to me for help with almost everything. That's not a bad thing, in itself. I'd rather they turn to me first. Still, they are all capable of staying alive, on their own, for at least an hour (and maybe even more!). It doesn't allow me time to leave and go to the gym but I have begun to disappear to "do work or read" for that short amount of time. I think that's helping us all. 

Lately, I've begun to read the most amazing book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. It's a satire so sometimes my head hurts trying to remember that it's backwards from what it's supposed to be. When I keep it straight, it's really a balm to me. I don't usually turn away from the Bible and Saints for advice but this is what I need at the moment. Just gentle reminders of how I was raised and how it's important now, even if everyone else in society (including those closest to me) say otherwise. So, we'll start again...
walking to a neighbor's home to get some exercise

and spend time with someone who we love very much
impromptu backyard carnivals

I love the thought that they're working together

and creating memories without my directions

family bingo - making a comeback!


and library visits when the weather is bad
There is so much more I need before I can approximate equilibrium around here. Listening to EWTN while I work on this allows me to catch snippets that the Holy Spirit will open my heart to at that moment. Returning to Adoration at least once per week will give me that quiet time with Our Lord to help focus my heart. Daily Mass whenever possible (always with the little ones and hopefully dh on occasion) will bring the grace we need to live together and work to know His will for us. 

It is a veil of tears on many days but it's not hopeless. Dealing with aging, coupled with kids growing at a mind-boggling rate is humbling. Living within a Church that is stained with sin, sometimes as much as the outside world, is something we can't overcome without God in our daily lives. If you feel your life spinning out of your grasp, join me. Let's go back to God first and see if our attitude doesn't change, even if our lives can't at the moment. God is so good and He is always waiting to give us rest. 

We are blessed.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Blessed weekend

We've been trying more actively around here to make Sunday about God and family. It's been a bit easier since school is not in session but, even then, culture has ways of creeping in (trumpet camp on Sunday afternoon - you still get to Mass but it kind of messes up the rest of the day. grr.). Most Sundays look like this - rosary in the car, Mass, family movie, see an open house or three. The last one is decidedly not about God; it's too easy for me to want what society says I should have and not be content with what I need.

This weekend was the first weekend of the month. We've also been making a greater effort to honor and follow the First Friday/First Saturday traditions of the Church. Going to Mass on Friday is a hit-and-miss but we do usually get there on First Friday. This month I took the little two to our local parish and were treated to 1. a delightful homily on God's mercy and Saint Maria Goretti and 2. breakfast with a wonderful priest and his equally wonderful mother following. Even dh took time out of his day to leave the office to attend Mass. I'm guessing those graces combined to make a pretty amazing Saturday.

The four older kids had altar server training/review at our parish Saturday morning. I'm not sure the girls will ever serve at the altar but we believe it a good thing for them to take every opportunity to learn anything you can about the Mass. Normally I would have been eavesdropping, trying to parse out all the knowledge that is transferred to servers but, as luck would have it (ahem) there happened to be confession happening at that exact moment.

I'm not a fan of our parish for confession. I don't like the way that sounded - confession is great anywhere/any time. However, there are priests with whom you connect and those who are less-so. I always think it's funny because I love our priests - their homilies, chatting with them about all sorts of things...the confession experience is kind of, well, meh. Still, it was First Saturday so I was blessed to have the sacrament available with minimal waiting.

Imagine my surprise when I found sitting across from me...not our usual priests, but a lovely retired Father whom we had for Mass earlier in the week. When he began that Mass, I looked at his smiling face and saw, not the priest before me, but a lovely visit from a long-ago friend. Fr. Al was one of the two priests at St. Patrick's with whom I credit keeping me in the Catholic faith. He was a good priest, a good friend and had the most wonderful smile. His passing in 2004, less than a year after marrying us, was devastating to me. In most confessions I sense Jesus and His grace. This time I also saw a dear friend I hadn't seen for over a decade. What a blessed occasion.

We left the training immediately to head south to our monthly date with the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer for First Saturday rosary. We made it with enough time to wander around a bit and visit a grotto that was erected on our wedding anniversary, the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim.

The sisters were wonderful as always and dh even got to lead a decade this month! It was a pretty funny picture, him and the nuns sitting in the front pew. How God changes you :0) I also got to speak with one of my favorite priests here, Fr. Ed. I do have a soft spot for elderly priests. They have so much wisdom to share.

Back at home, I got a Facebook message from my cousin in Slovakia, reminding me that this was the weekend of the pilgrimage in Lavoca and that she and my cousin, Fr. Peter, would be at the midnight Mass. We watched Fr. Peter concelebrate and wondered at God's amazing feat of joining us with family on another continent. How blessed we are to share this faith across the globe!
He's the big guy on the right in the middle of the photo

There are some amazing cathedrals across the globe but it's pretty spectacular to have that backdrop while you attend Mass ;0)
Sunday was equally blessed with Mass presided over by one of our favorite visiting priests. His homily, as usual, was amazing...speaking of the difference between Lucifer descending to hell out of pride and Christ condescending out of humility. Wow.

And, because God likes to show off His best stuff on Sunday, we followed up Mass with a lecture by an amazingly gifted young priest. Father spoke of Benedictine spirituality and how we must make radical choices if we're to move out of the power of secular society and rejoin God's plan for us. The joy in my heart to hear this young man speak. The hope it gives me for the future. The gift it was for 4/5ths of our kids to be there to listen to his words. Wow.

As I've said before, your mileage may vary...God gives us all amazing experiences of His love and mercy. Yours will be different from mine. The point of this, aside from recording the experiences to remember later when I'm having a dry spell, is to encourage you to just let God do his work in and through you. Free up your schedule; seek Him out in every moment of your day; make an effort to look and listen for Him. You will be amazed.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Getting along...

I think I'm getting old. That or death is moving in quickly. I seem to, as of late, have some of that focused vision that people gain through experience and at the end of life. I put this out as a disclaimer first and foremost...I have, much of the time, failed to master much of this in real life on a consistent basis. There are still moments when loving my neighbor (have you met my neighbors?) is a Herculean task. Still, it's what we're called to and I do believe I'm softening with time (see above).

Someone had posted an article on FB recently. I was something like,"That's really beautiful, but it's not for me" about getting along. There were members of two religious orders sitting on a panel, discussing charisms, when one of them said that exact phrase. The author made the point that if all of us, especially moms, could get to that point...imagine how the competition/depression/comparisons would diminish to almost nothing.

I've had the opportunity to see this in action over the past two days. I've attended daily Mass at a church some distance from my own. I used to call this a "happy-clappy" church but have moved to "waving" as a gentler way to describe it. I can't say Charismatic, per se, because I don't see talking in tongues, jumping, or other things that are sometimes associated with that movement (which I have witnessed at other Masses), just a lot of arm gestures.

I'm grateful for that article because, as much as I felt like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I leaned heavy on that phrase. It's true...waving is not my way to grow closer to God. I prefer Latin, incense, and quiet. I was not in the majority and God was there to sacrifice Himself for all of us. Amazing, huh?

I find myself at that Mass because our kids are attending Maranatha, a Vocation bible school, in which each grade learns about a different Religious Order. God is good to connect the dots because I'm kind of sleep-deprived as of late.

If there are so many different Orders, each with a different Charism, in religious life, why would He have created those of us non-consecrated folk to be any different? Let's look at the Benedictines...there are 100 Benedictine houses across America and most of those are further divided among four major congregations: American=Cassinese, Swiss-American, St. Scholastica, and St. Benedict.

This is why it's difficult to even call someone a "Traditional" or a "Charismatic" because among those are a miriad of ways in which the person may express their devotion to and gifts from God.

So, let's agree to disagree or, better yet, just agree to get along. Perhaps a waving church isn't to your taste. That's really ok. I would challenge you, however, to see the goodness that the people at those Masses bring to the worship. If it's destracting (like it is for me) just find a church that isn't so much or is more to your call from Him. He created so many types of people and expressions to give Him glory...surely you can find one for you.

If not, there's always the opportunity to begin your own. I'm thinking I may know a few people who would like to begin a cloistered family order with my friend and me. If so, contact me through email...there are still a lot of bugs to work out. ;0)

Ultimately, I pray that through your search for God, you will find the way in which He is calling you to praise and follow Him. It doesn't have to be like me. That's not the only way. Your way is beautiful but it may not be for me and vv. Let's just follow Him and His call and see if it doesn't help everyone in the end.

Oh, one last note. If you find yourself in the library trying to work and there is a girl behind you talking non-stop, or in the subway with a bunch of kids running wild while their mom plays on her phone, or even at traditional Mass when you are definitely the waving type...offer up your discomfort and upset. I know for a fact that God can use every ounce of that for good and many of us could use some of those graces. You may even walk away feeling pretty pleased that you could go through it and keep your peace intact.

We are blessed.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The END of the Great Western Pilgrimage...part 13

I'm not sure what I originally thought about San Francisco before I left but, in retrospect, I suppose it's like most things; like life...it depends on what you decide to concentrate. We went for some of the big tourist attractions and kept the rest to churches. I would say it worked out perfectly for us. Ahem.

Speaking of...when we talked to a dear couple at church before we left, the husband kept saying, "the bridge is great as long as it's not fogged in." I couldn't believe it was that huge an occurrence but, having just watched The Great Food Truck Race and seeing, right there on tv, the fogged in bridge (wouldn't they have waited to make it tv-nice if they could?) I figure it is a common thing. How delightful, then, when God decided to make it work out for those of us who don't plan to be there again in this lifetime.

As we drove up to the parking lot beside the bay, it was drizzling a bit. The Slovak in the car (actually he's more lazy than Slovak) said, "oh, we might as well forget it...it's raining and we won't be able to see anything anyway." Sigh. I admit I was kind of over that negativity on this, our last day of vacation, so I restarted the car and pulled away. I figured I'd drive a bit closer to the bridge (but not go across...although, I admit, that Diesel song was playing in my head)
Hot summer night in Sausalito
Can't stand the heat another mile
Let's drop a quarter in the meter
And hit the sidewalk for a while
I'll have a burger and a root beer
You feed the heap some of the grape
A shot of premium to boot, dear
We'll get across the Golden Gate
We somehow got on this twisty little road and ended up above the bridge. The rain had stopped and, yes, there was a rainbow. The rainbow ended in Alcatraz. You can't make this up, people. God has a great sense of humor.
We didn't have time to take the ferry to the gold ;0)




I can see why people live in California...this is 5 minutes after it had been pouring rain.

You know me...I have to end with church when at all possible. Our LAST Mission! Mission San Francisco de Asis was the 6th Mission, founded by Saint Serra, on June 29, 1776. The Mission is no longer active but happens to be right next door to the Mission Dolores Basilica, which is thriving. Because the world is small, the guy who sold us the tickets for admission was originally from the East coast, one of many kids, and thus obligated to give us a break on the price. I was not arguing. That was the best deal to be found in California!
"Sancto Francisco"

I adore these kinds of staircases in the old churches

Saint Michael with his scales of justice. Is the devil dying or mocking???

Mission roof - incredible

 





Saint Pascual - his new favorite ;0)


A Saint knelt here!




Kind of hard to imagine bustling San Francisco used to look like this.
This is the outside of the basilica - the little roof on the left is the Mission - I was trying to keep the kids from being run over so pictures outside didn't work well.

The inside of the basilica. Beautiful.


The windows portrayed the Missions





There was an amazing, amazing museum of everything old (read traditional) that was used at the Mission. Beautiful.


Saying goodbye to the California cacti
I totally lost count - is that 11? or 12? I don't know, really, but whatever it was, we had an unbelievably blessed time retracing some of Saint Junipero Serra's steps when he followed the Holy Spirit's call to bring the faith to the native peoples. Our journey was not nearly as arduous as the Saint's but he didn't have five little kids with him so, there's that. How blessed we were, even in this modern age, to step back in time to see how he lived and where he worked for God's Glory. Amazing.

Home to a few adult beverages (thank you, Homewood Suites!) then to bed...we would be heading out in the morning!
She wanted to wear her souvenir home. I do love that shirt.

Hanging out, waiting for our delayed plane.

Thank you, dear friend, for the AAA tour books. They spent more than an hour picking out itineraries to travel in the future.

A beautiful day to fly to Denver. Too bad the turbulence on landing/takeoff almost made me lose it.

Luckily I had all of my loves close by on both legs of the trip - most of them praying for their phobic mom.

I do admit, sunset from the sky is a nice thing. God has a great seat :0)
Ahh, those beautiful Three Rivers. Home!

Six new states added! I think we only have ten to go (the map has VT/NH together so we left it off until we complete the pair)

God is so good to watch over us as we travel, allow us enough trial to build our perseverance and enough glimpses of His work to retain our hope and trust in Him. What an amazing journey. What a great reminder that people of faith may look different but ultimately share the same basic, AWESOME, center of their lives. God is so good.

We are blessed.