Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Lovely Lady, Dressed in Blue

Teach me how to pray!

This is the beginning of a beautiful poem by Mary Dixon Thayer, you can read the rest Here What a beautiful month this has been, centered on Our Mother. Who better to lead us to her Son?

We are grateful for so many opportunities to honor Our Lady this month...May crowning, a Marian songfest and today, on the feast of The Visitation, my reconsecration to Jesus through Mary. This night was especially blessed by a very clear intervention of the Holy Spirit. I am so grateful to Our Mother for her constant guidance...always leading us to her son. We are blessed.

A crown

A chat

A family prayer

Our most amazing church choir. Beautiful.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Thank You

Today we remember all the Veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for our freedom. Since they cannot be with us, it is so important that we thank and bless the others who did come home. We owe them all so much.

Freedom, Family, Friends...and ice cream. We are so blessed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Play Day

We've been fighting with bridge construction for a few weeks now and, frankly, it's getting old. We're still trying to honor our routine of attending Adoration every Monday morning so it's a good excuse to extend our outings before we head back through the traffic. (It's also a great time to do so because #5 is with Grammy that day).

After 23 whole minutes (#2 declared it a new record) Adoring our Lord in the Eucharist, we headed to the History Center. An exhibit is about to close and we wanted to take a second walk through, just for the fun of it (membership has its privileges ;0) )

It is a fantastic throwback..they even had original weebles

Why don't I have a gun that's a camera? Seems perfect

Abacus and clock...again, why is this not around anymore?

I guess, if someone should love Barbie, it should be her

Free tokens to play the old-time games as well! I'm a fan of centipede.
Bucs on Thursday and then the holiday weekend. I'm liking this no-school gig.

Enjoy the sunshine!

We are blessed.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day 3 (Continued), 4 and 5

Saturday was a long, blessed day. When we left the Poor Clares in Hanceville, we drove 30 minutes South to see another long-awaited sight. It was less impressive than the monastery (and, for some reason, I expected to see simple) but still great to see "in person".
Picture from EWTN

Our "private time" in the chapel ;0) JK. It helps to go just before it closes.
So, so cool. We watch the rosary for life once in a while and now it's so neat to know we were sitting right there in the same pews. It's also very cool to be in a chapel where the goings-on are televised. Look closely to see the cameras and lighting on the wall. I'm kind of glad we weren't there for Mass. I think I would be really distracted.

The Stations were also some of the most moving and different I'd ever seen. This is a pretty crummy picture but you can see the soldier pulling Jesus's arm, trying to get him upright to move on after He had fallen.

We didn't get into the studio but that was for the best. From the picture, you can see that one of the travelers was eager to get to a new state.

So, Georgia it was. We slept a good sleep and got up for a later Mass (10:30) with DH's family. Let's just say, even with sleep it didn't work all that well. Remember a few days ago when I said Nashville was a Southern Church where the Catholics went conservative? Marietta was definitely the other side.

I know this is a dark picture but it's the only one I could find online. See the jumbo trons on the left and right? That, and the lack of hymnals (the slots were there, just no books...none) was enough to send #1 into a weeping fit (she was kind of judgmental and hysterical all at once..."where are the hymnals and WHY are there giant screens on the wall?") I applaud her for calling out something so wrong, even if she broached it in an impolite manner. (when you are looking at the screens, you have no chance of concentrating on what is happening at the altar...they are big and bright..it's like a rock concert except they're not televising the main event).

It turns out the giant screens are to project lovely background photos and lyrics to the Christian rock songs that are played in place of traditional hymns. (Honestly, it was Pentecost and until "Come Holy Ghost" for the recessional, I was clueless.) Father yelled at everyone during the homily about "people are supposed to participate, Catholics should sing". All I could think was, "well, then, play some Catholic hymns". Of course, my K-Love adoring husband was singing along cheerfully. Traitor.

Two other noteworthy differences and I'll move on. The picture above isn't any special day...in fact, it could have been taken on any given Sunday. During the Consecration, they turn out all the lights (and the jumbo trons)...except the spotlights on the altar. I kid you not. I guess it's so people know something important is happening. That's all I can say about that.

Finally, before the final blessing, Father asked us to sit down. He then proceeded to go around the church, asking who the visitors were and where they were from. DH, knowing how beyond ready to go I was at this point, shouts out "Pittsburgh" from the back (I guess I was acting badly so he was having fun). The hooting and hollering that ensued was reminiscent of a Steelers win. No words. I just told the kids some places do Catholic differently and this, in no way, is my preference. I know it's just the Holy Spirit messing with me on His big day. He knows my struggle with my home parish. He also knows that show sent me running North as quickly as possible.

So, with an 80th birthday celebration
and two more Holy Doors
Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta

St. Mary's in Greenville, SC
we are gratefully back home. What an amazing trip. Beginning at St. Mary, Queen of the Apostles and ending at St. Mary's had no little part in the graces given, I'm quite sure. Our Lady has been traveling along on all of our trips and she so kind to bring us to her Son and her Spouse as often as our sin-clouded minds can bear. How grateful we are. How blessed we are.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Day 3, Al-a-bam-a!

As I mentioned it was a beautiful sunrise (I know because I woke us all up at 6:30 instead of 7:30...time zones confound me). It was all for the good actually, we beat the cheerleaders to breakfast and headed out on the road.

I hadn't realized prior but, once we announced the state (we cheer each time we reach a border...see the post on "is this where we sleep") it quickly became apparent that, in our vehicle of 7, I was the only one who had ever made it to one of the great states of the Civil Rights Movement (think Rosa Parks). Well, they were all delighted to be here when we started talking about these little critters...
Truly, only DH saw them (thankfully) as they were all killed on the side of the road
The welcome center was declared the best of the ten states visited. Why you ask?

"5,4,3,2,1...blast off" we had just been listening to Laurie Berkner too! (ahem) Thanks Kellie :0)

There is little to soothe a travel-weary bunch of kids...except exploring a rocket. There was also a Harley convention at the rest stop (!) so everyone was given plenty to ponder as we drove on down the road.

We were all very, very excited...we were finally there! (some people have the beach or a theme park and we like those things too but, ultimately, we are big, Catholic nerds). Our Lady of the Angels Monastery of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration  was all we could have imagined and more. The peacefulness and grace of the place. Simply amazing. Here are a few outdoor shots.
Blue Knights at the castle ;0)

This houses the creche...all day, every day

El Nino ;0)

could have walked through here for hours

gorgeous and moving...even the kids were fascinated into spontaneous prayer/weeping/commentary
We ventured inside and looked around a bit. The crypt church under the main church was so beautiful. We were blessed to kneel and pray at Mother Angelica's crypt. (I didn't take photos inside so these are from the website during Mother Angelica's funeral and burial)

We went back upstairs and saw the enclosure.
Mother leaving the cloister for the last time

Full disclosure. When I have scary dreams (and they're scary because I know they are completely possible and would be completely right) it's about walking Blondie up to a similar door and kissing her goodbye. I have been told it may be God's way of preparing my heart but it's still striking when I am so close to that door. All I could do was turn to DH and say, "if she goes in, I'm going to need to move nearby." He thought that was a very good plan.

The most grace-filled blessing came upstairs. No, not all the wonderful signs that so politely and God-centeredly dealt with everyday issues.
:0) There were similar ones for smoking and litter and all sorts of great things!
First, we walked through the Holy Door (I've lost count)

This is what you see before you go through the door (on the left)
This is walking through the Holy Door (not my amazing photos...website!)
We had planned our day to be there to pray the rosary with the Sisters. It was one of those experiences that, if I do move nearby, I'm going to have to repeat as often as possible. It was like a little bit of heaven. Even the difficult child was quiet, listening to the "angels" that he couldn't see.

website photo...I only took one in the bathroom!

We sat about two rows back from the front. Just praying in front of that beautiful Monstrance, knowing the sisters were on the other side, was such a moving time. These women who have given their lives to pray for the Church and the world. Wow. 

Those screen windows on either side are completely opaque but sound and light travel through. You could hear the Sisters and know that they were there but you could not see them. It was such an exercise in faith!

We were going to stay for Mass in the crypt but realized that we would be late if we wanted to make one more stop before reaching our destination. I'm tired now too so I guess I'll close. I can wrap up Alabama and Atlanta and the trip home tomorrow. Promise!

Thanks for reading along on our adventure. These pilgrimages never cease to deliver. I am someone who needs to see and hear and feel God as much as I can and this is a way that helps me to leave my daily grind and listen a bit more closely. If you are a person that can do that in the midst of your day, you are blessed! If you are someone who can't make all of these side trips but seeks God where you travel, you are blessed! If you forget then remember to listen, you are blessed! God meets us everywhere we are.

We are blessed.

Day 2, Part 2...It's not all religion ;0)

After our lovely Cathedral Mass, we headed across the street to Jason's Deli to pickup some to-go sandwiches (which wasn't the easiest thing since, silly me, I hadn't realized that Vanderbilt Law School had graduated about 10 minutes prior. Oops). Trials, people...they happen ;0)

We jumped in the car and headed to (cue trumpets), one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Truth-be-told, they call it the Parthenon and I suppose it also looks like that but, seriously, I think it could also pass for the Temple of Artemis, don't you agree? Regardless, it was pretty cool and even though we didn't go inside (it's an art museum that would have cost $32 and, well, we're not that into art). Besides, it was a gorgeous day...perfect to sit outside and lunch then take a walk allll around the park.

color view of reconstructed model of Temple of Artemis, at Miniatürk Park, Istanbul, Turkey
Similar, non?

As if Greece/Turkey weren't enough history/geography to chew on, we then headed to the Tennessee State Museum. This was strictly for #3 who is a Civil War aficionado but #1 also showed some good interest. The little ones and #2? Well, they can't all be a success. Besides, it was free to get in and parking was not $32 so, score.

my mom made each of the girls a "sunbonnet sue" quilt so it was cool to see another!

The day was getting late, we had a 30 minute drive to the hotel (which turned into 90 because of an accident ahead of us) but we arrived, had dinner, and headed to bed. What a fun, full day in Tennessee. There happened to be a convention of 4-6 year-old cheerleaders in the hotel with us but, gratefully, the desk person put us "above the fray" and we enjoyed our 9th floor quiet view. It was especially beautiful when the sun came up (I forgot to change my clock to central time...oops) on a Saturday that would be, for our family, one of the most memorable in a long time.

Even in a reasonably warm (the ac was not exactly working) hotel room, we are abundantly blessed.