Friday, March 28, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: St. Louis, Louis Edition

1. It is Spring in St. Louis, where we are visiting my family. Everyday has gotten above 40, and the daffodils are beginning to bloom. There is absolutely no snow on the ground, and it is just lovely. We even had a thunder storm last night! I know that it is wishful thinking for me to hope for Spring in St. Paul when we get back, but next week there does not look sooo bad:

At least it is not single digits with a negative windchill. I could go for a little more sunshine, but then it is almost Spring there so precipitation is to be expected.

2. Dad Update: Our main reason for coming to St. Louis for Spring Break was because my parents could not make their annual March visit to us. Dad is still recovering from his emergency surgery which repaired an aortic dissection. He has some nerve damage, which they think was caused by the dissection itself, which is affecting his ability to use his hands, specifically his left hand. He is still experiencing a lot of pain, which really affects his ability to function. The thing about his surgery is that there is not a lot of precedence of people who have had the exact surgery and recovered from it, so it is all very open-ended as to when he is going to feel all the way healed, or if it will ever be complete. We can only pray, wait, and be thankful that my dad is still with us. He is having good days and worse days. Sometimes, all he is able to do is sleep for a whole day, and other days he goes for long walks. I am convinced more and more that being around happy little kids is the best medicine for him. :) Please continue to keep him and our family in your prayers.

3. We had dinner guests yesterday, and after dessert we started talking about music. Then my parents started singing songs from their charismatic community days, and then Dad got up went to the piano and played a whole concert for us of all the songs he had written, many of them based on scripture. I suggested to him that he make a video that could go viral, and then he could become a famous musician. Who knows? But it was a lot of fun to hear all the songs he played when I was a child growing up.
Photo by yours truly.
4. We have been going all over St. Louis this visit, and it has been fun to see all the sites. We went to Mass near my elementary school, and showed the kids my school on the way home. We went down to the Arch, parked along the river front, and climbed the stairs. The kids were a little afraid that the Arch would fall over on them because the moving clouds in the sky made it look as if the Arch were moving. We did not go up in the Arch, because F is at that age where she does not last anywhere for very long. Instead we went into the Museum of Westward Expansion. The older two loved it, especially when they got to see the covered wagon "like Laura and Mary" rode in from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  M took the kids to the free St. Louis Zoo alone, while my dad and I went to get haircuts. I think they had a lot of fun together, and everyone survived.

5. Today we went to the Art Museum and saw the Impressionist France exhibit. It was good, except I really wanted it to be all huge colorful paintings, and those were about a third of the exhibit. It is free on Fridays, so we only paid to reserve our tickets in advance. That turned out to be a good idea, since we would have had to wait an hour to get in if we had not done so. Our older kids really liked the paintings, but F fussed the whole time because she wanted to be let loose out of the sling. Though one man told M that he enjoyed looking at him and the girls more than he enjoyed the art! They also had some early French photography taken on negatives of glass, paper, and waxed paper. It is pretty cool how they were able to take the earliest images. Tonight we are going to get our last Ted Drewes frozen custard until our next visit. I am pretty sure they do not open early enough for us to get some on our way out of town.

6. It is fortunate that the Cardinals are opening the season Monday in Cincinnati and not at home. If they were, it would be a huge sacrifice for me to leave so close to opening day. As it is, I will be able to tear myself away, and M will not have to cancel class next week for my love of baseball. Dad and I once went to a home opener when I was in high school. It was on Easter Monday that year, and we had a lot of fun. St. Louis has such a rich baseball tradition, that I am glad I was raised in. It is almost as cool as being raised Catholic. ;) I got a chance to see the new "Ballpark Village" when we were leaving downtown after visiting the Arch. It looks pretty nice, I wonder how it will help downtown in the off season.

7. And last of all, we had another basement water issue a couple of weeks ago when the snow started to melt. Then we realized that there is a drainage system in place on our back patio to prevent such a problem which was covered in snow still. We spent a whole day fixing the problem, and knew exactly what to do to get the basement dry quickly. A friend mentioned something that their realtor told them: "There are two kinds of basements: those that leak and those that will." Oh, home ownership...

Head on over to Jen's Conversion Diary to read more Quick Takes!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Millennials that Marry Young

The recent Pew Research Center report "Millennials in Adulthood" summed up a recent survey of my generation with this:
"The Millennial generation is forging a distinctive path into adulthood. Now ranging in age from 18 to 331, they are relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry— and optimistic about the future."
As it happens, many of my personal friends are also of the Millennial generation, but we, while linked by social media and burdened by debt, are very attached to politics, religion, and are happily married with children coming every couple of years. We are showing that there is more to our generation than a young adulthood of self exploration and leisure after adolescence. Emerging into adulthood can be paired with taking on responsibilities, and even though we do not feel like adults we are preserving traditional values for society that many of our peers are leaving by the wayside. I think that my story is not so very different from other religious Millennials, even if we are now living what some consider to be an "alternative lifestyle."
Photo by Paul HagiusPhoto by Paul Hagius

I married my husband ten days before my twenty-second birthday and three months after his. We both had a BA and MA to our names, and only I had student debt for us to pay off. We knew many couples from our small Catholic college that were in a similar situation. Many of the couples were hoping to have children, while one of the spouses went to graduate school for further education. Other friends of ours did things like go to graduate school, start a job, enter religious life, or go to seminary. These all seemed like choices that would make us feel like adults.

When our first daughter was born before our first anniversary, I was posting pictures of my baby on Facebook, while the majority of my friends were posting pictures of themselves going out with friends. While I spent Friday and Saturday nights at home with my husband, most of my peers were trying to figure out where they were going to the movies or out to dinner.

It was a very strange experience, to be one of the few of my high school and college acquaintance to be married and having children. We found friends in our new city who also were having their first children, but we were the youngest by two years. I wonder now, if we are so very different from our peers who waited five more years for marriage and children.

In the current discussion of “emerging adulthood,” a theory which is being applied to those of the millennial generation, financial independence, marriage, and having children are marks of full adulthood. But when I look at the description of what “emerging adults” experience, I have had the exact same feelings that unmarried peers also had. It is really only since we bought a house last year, that I sometimes really feel like an adult. There must be more to being an adult than marriage, money, and children.

Here are the five features of “emerging adulthood” from the 2006 review of the book by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, PhD, “Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens Though the Twenties” (Oxford University Press, 2004) :
Age of identity exploration. Young people are deciding who they are and what they want out of work, school and love.
Age of instability. The post-high school years are marked by repeated residence changes, as young people either go to college or live with friends or a romantic partner. For most, frequent moves end as families and careers are established in the 30s.
Age of self-focus. Freed of the parent- and society-directed routine of school, young people try to decide what they want to do, where they want to go and who they want to be with–before those choices get limited by the constraints of marriage, children and a career.
Age of feeling in between. Many emerging adults say they are taking responsibility for themselves, but still do not completely feel like an adult.
Age of possibilities. Optimism reigns. Most emerging adults believe they have good chances of living “better than their parents did,” and even if their parents divorced, they believe they’ll find a lifelong soul mate.
The thing is, all of these features have been a part of my experience since I was married at 21. Obviously, during our four years in college these things were normal, but after our wedding we were still learning to be adults.

Going through the five features of “emerging adulthood,” I will begin with “age of identity exploration.” One of the great things about marrying young is that a couple can mature in adulthood together. Having met my husband when I was 18, on the cusp of so-called “emerging adulthood,” we have spent our whole adult life as friends. We spent as much time together as was reasonable, studying, praying, and hanging out. Our vocational discernment was largely influenced by our friendship, and we had a beautifully supportive community of friends. On the practical side, we cooked many dinners together at each other’s off-campus homes and worked the same student worker job. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other as very young adults, and we were able to do this in a safe community of the “bubble” of our conservative Catholic college campus.

Then we graduated, left the safety of our small community, got married, and moved to a brand new city with two minivans full of stuff to our name and only each other for local friends. Then we felt young in the wide world, but still hopeful as members of our generation. We helped each other in figuring out what we wanted out of life, but were also largely guided by our faith. I think, because of our Catholic identity, we did not feel the need to explore what we wanted in life after marriage. We were living the life we had chosen together, but still did not feel like adults.

The “Age of Instability” fits my experience well. Most of my life since high school has been characterized by the instability of moving from place to place. Since I was 18, I have lived in ten different homes, in dorms, houses, and apartments. Now that we have bought a house, I expect that we will have more home stability. I have lived in five different cities (including a semester abroad), but now that my husband has a tenure track position, I doubt that we will move again. It took a graduate degree and full time employment for us to find stability and to settle into a community. But unlike, our unmarried, nonreligious peers, we had the stability of each other, our extended families, and the community of the universal Church.

I definitely experienced the “Age of Self Focus.” Having my first child when my peers were not was very difficult for me. I found myself resenting my loss of freedom, and I was still very much self-focused as I took care of my child. Looking back, I see that a lot of my problem was getting used to taking care of an entirely dependent human being that required so much. For the first time in my life, my wants were not my priority. I struggled to take care of myself and another, but I still did not feel like an adult. I had already been restrained by marriage and children, but I still had a lot of selfishness to overcome. I think that self focus is something that is continually overcome, unless one is truly a saint.

Then there is the “Age of feeling in between,” which seems to me an unsurprising feature of maturing in adulthood. The youngest adults do not feel equal to the oldest adults in the workforce. I worked a part-time job my first two years of marriage, bringing my baby to work with me, but my co-workers all had children my age. They advised me on parenting, and had much more experience in our work. I was young and inexperienced in their eyes. My husband as a graduate student, under the tutelage of his professors and teaching classes of undergraduates, was very much in between. It seems that whether one is married or not, there is an adjustment time to the workforce.

Further, whenever we encountered a crisis situation, we were always calling our parents. Our car broke down, so we called for a tow, brought it to a shop, and then called our parents for advice about the repairs. We were facing many normal life experiences for the first time as adults, and felt like children doing so.

We were not immune to the “age of possibilities” either. We spent all of our last year in college hopeful about graduate schools and our marriage. When my husband was earning his PhD, we were hopeful about job prospects, though also realistic about the awful job market for prospective philosophy professors. When he did get his job, we were hopeful about our future. Even now, that we are finally “settled” with our family of five, in our house in the first ring suburb, we are hopeful about what our future will bring.

Millennials who have decided to settle down early in their twenties are still experiencing a lot of the same things that our unmarried peers are experiencing. In some ways it is more serious that jobs are hard to come by and student debt seems to have no end in sight. Many of the young Millennial families are living on one income or one and a half. For our children thrifty budgeting, home made foods, secondhand or clearance clothing, frequent Church attendance, siblings, and sharing rooms are just a part of life.

And as Catholics we have our faith. In our brave new world of social networking, we have online places of community. Thanks to our weekly obligation, we also have our local Catholic communities. Everywhere I have lived, a Catholic community has been my foundation. In my youth I had my family and parish. In college I had the whole campus and my closest friends. In graduate school, my husband and I quickly met as many young, Catholic couples as we could.

And now, we have found a great Catholic community in our new home. It is the real life Catholic community that has helped us preserve our values as a part of the generation who connects largely over the Internet, and the Internet has helped us to connect with Catholics across the globe. It is incredible, how a single prayer request on a person’s Facebook timeline can lead to hundreds and thousands of people praying. Millennials who have faith are certainly in the minority, and it will not be easy to preserve our values in society, but we will hold tight to our traditions and live.

Originally at Truth and Charity...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Ridiculous Fears About Having More Children

So, I have been thinking a lot lately about when our next baby might come into existence, and what it will be like to have four children. I am not taking it for granted that we will have another child, but given our ages and health, it makes sense that a fourth child will be on the way at some point. And the idea of four children makes me a little nervous. It makes me quite a bit nervous. Because first of all we have a good routine. The baby (now 16 months, but still "the baby") sleeps well in her own room, takes a good long nap in the afternoon, and I am used to having three now. The older two play well most of the day, succeed in their preschool tasks, and give me a nice quiet time in the afternoon. It is comfortable; it feels easy. I am not a big fan of changing a good thing, but there is the call to be more open and the hope of more children.

Honestly, I really am not a fan of the newborn phase. Sleep is always at a minimum. The older kids are cranky about change. I do like sitting around all day, eating whatever I want, and not having to exercise for six weeks. Plus, there is the cute baby to hold and smell. But when I think about having another newborn, it just makes me a little tired. I always deal with engorgement and mastitis when my babies are young, and I long for the age of predictable naptimes and bedtimes. Alright, I made that confession. Moving on...

I have been blessed with a husband who is very helpful when he has the time. So, I have maybe had to go shopping with three kids by myself about ten times since F was born 16 months ago. I used to shop with the older two during the week when M had a day he did not teach. I would leave the baby during her nap. Then L and G started the phase where they don't want to ride in the cart, never listen to my instructions when we are walking up and down the aisles, get in people's way all the time, and climb anything that looks climbable. So, I gave up on shopping during the week. Now I shop on Saturday mornings alone or sometimes with one kid. When I have one kid, I am always listened to.

A few weeks ago I took G (5) with me to Aldi, and then we went to Target. At Target, she decided that her legs were tired of walking, so I indulged her and let her ride in the monster cart with two forward facing seats attached to the cart. As she rode along on her perch, I noticed that people kept on smiling at her. They saw a cute girl out shopping with her cute mom. I never get smiles like that if I have two or three kids with me.

Our family's normal destinations are church, play groups, and more church. That is where we go with all three kids together; we are seeing people who know us or are used to seeing us. Last Friday we went to a delicious Lebanese food fish fry at the local Maronite Church. We walked in, and the lady selling tickets told us that it was $10 per adult and kids under five were free. We got lucky, because G was not turning five until the next day. As M and I were going through the food line, he herded the older two, and I held the baby. When the ladies dishing out the food realized that we were all together, they started saying sympathizing things about how busy I am and how it must be to have three little kids. It felt like they felt bad for me, and that bothered me a little bit. I feel like I should be able to go out with my kids without people thinking I am a crazy busy person in need of sympathy. Actually, M and I chose to have kids. We made conscious decisions which led to having three beautiful sweet children, and we are happy. I know that if I took all three kids shopping with me more often, I would get more looks and comments than I expose myself to now.  I actually am savoring a little bit the time when I appear to have only one or two. I am a little bit cowardly about moving outside my Catholic circle of friends with all my kids.

I went to a Mom's group at my parish today. We decided afterwards, when we were in the car, that we were going to stop by Trader Joe's and find something "fun" for lunch in honor of the Solemnity of St. Joseph. My kids love Trader Joe's. I got there with the three kids, parked in the "under parking" underneath the store, unloaded all three, and made a chain across the garage to the elevator doors. The kids love the under parking and the elevators. When we arrived to the level of the store, I put F in a cart and asked the other girls to stay close. So, of course, they walked kind of close, but not close enough to not take over the whole aisle of the small store. We walked over to the free samples, and it is crackers and cheese. The older two split a sample and I shared mine with F. Then G did something to make L upset, so L started to scream (because that is how she has always cried). I helped her calm down in a hushed tone, and started feeling a little flustered. We left the samples and headed toward the frozen foods to find our fun lunch.

A man stopped me, said something about me being a mother, and handed me a white envelope. He had about ten more in his other hand. I wondered what he had given me, and felt a little bit weird about it. I hurried to get the rest of the items we needed, feeling anxious that my kids were getting in the way of other carts or inching along in front of mine so that I can't move at all. Finally, we got to the checkout, and I stood in a long line. The girls were then on their best behavior in anticipation of greeting the cashier. The employees always hide two stuffed rabbits in the store, and if children can find them and then tell the cashier where the bunnies are, they get a treat or stickers. G was very polite to the cashier and explained that she had found the bunnies and where they were. He was then so kind to them, giving them each a sucker and a cereal bar to F. As we were about to walk away he stuck a bunch of stickers into our bag. But I was still feeling flustered, as I reminded my children to keep walking.

I got them in the car, thinking about that envelope and the strange encounter with the man. What was it that he handed me? I opened it up and discovered that it was an adaption of this poem, but I give it to you as he gave it to me:

"When you thought I wasn't looking"

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't listening,
I heard you say a prayer,
and knew that there is a God I could always talk to,
and I learned to trust in Him.
I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

I saw you take care of the house and everyone in it,
and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw how you handled your responsibilities,
even when you didn't feel good,
and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's alright to cry.

I saw that you cared,
and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked at you and wanted to say....
thanks for all the things
I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.
I was not expecting this from an elderly man in Trader Joe's, but there it was. He had a stack of envelopes, and he must have been handing them out to parents since 2010. For some reason, I expect people to be negative about me having more than two kids, but I have forgotten that most people like kids and want to see them around. Kids are a sign of hope, and everyone knows that raising them is not easy. I am called to be more than just open to having more children, but to not be afraid to share them with the world. Every child that M and I have is not for us, but for the perfection of the universe, for the completion of God's plan for His creation. I need to learn to just enjoy my children, and when we are out and about, it will be a joy for others as well. Further, if I show my children that I am flustered by them, they will see...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Now We are Five

The big girls helped me make this sign with their awesome gluing skills.
I have been unable to blog for the past week or so besides my bimonthly post for Truth and Charity. We have been so busy here with leaky basements and birthdays, that I have not had an afternoon to sit down and write! We have discovered where the Spring thaw hits our basement, and where to move snow from next Winter so that it does not happen again. It was a very stressful 24 hours of moving snow and ice and trying to keep the carpet dry!

That was the beginning of the week, and then we had our double March birthdays at the end of the week. M had his on Friday, and he requested a very easy cake. I just had to make a white cake, whipped cream, and cut up some strawberries. It was very yummy, though I have not mastered the homemade whipped cream as well as I would like. I once whipped it too long and it became very buttery, and this time I am thinking maybe I did not do it long enough. I might need to have someone else show me their technique, since words in a cookbook are not doing it for me this time.

Then my biggest girl, G, turned 5 on Saturday. I am not sure five is an age to worry about, but maybe when she turns 16 we will all have to beware of the Ides of March. We have a fairly entertaining story of the beginning of my labor with her. I had false labor of four hours three separate times before actual labor started during the two weeks before her birth. When my first real labor contractions started it was about 5pm and we had some friends over helping prepare M's birthday dinner. They were about 10 minutes apart and I was able to cook and socialize through them, so I did. No one had a clue that I was having more painful and closer contractions for three hours, during which we cooked dinner, ate it, did dishes, and then had the wonderful Wegmans cheesecake. Around 8pm, I realized that I could not cover it up any more and that I needed the apartment to ourselves. When a friends suggested we play a game, I announced that I was in labor, and they happily went on their way. G had the niceness to wait until the next day to be born, so that she and her father did not have to share a birthday. M already shares his birthday with his sister who was born (five weeks early) the day he turned three.

Now we have a very emotional five year old living under our roof. She was so wound up all weekend, her emotions swinging from extremely excited to very upset, depending on what she was thinking. I think she enjoyed herself, but it is a good thing birthdays only come once a year. Oh, my little G. I think five years must be a little awkward, in that it is not quite the age of a big girl, but also no longer a toddler. She is a preschooler, learning kindergarten things, and when she gets to kindergarten, she will be ready for a lot of first grade things. She is a caring big sister, but also very sensitive about her things. She is full of questions and ideas, and eager for affirmation. She does best when she has guidelines for her activities, but is also given room to imagine. I feel like I did not fully appreciate her babyhood, because it was my first time, and am trying hard to appreciate her at every new age now, even though it is my first time. I just wish I had more patience with her, but I that means I need to be working on letting go of more of my time to give to her. I hope her year of five is full of learning and growing in virtue.

Happy Birthday to M and G!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Both Mass of the Roman Rite are Tradition

Photo by Lawrence OP.
As is usual in articles about the liturgy, there was division in the comments on my articles about devotion to the old Mass and about participation in the Mass from people who prefer the Extraordinary Form and from those who prefer the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This is my attempt to find a balance between the two sides, and be open to the whole of the Church’s traditions.

The novel A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. begins 600 years after a nuclear war that destroyed the bulk of civilization. The story opens upon a monastery were books are being hidden and preserved. They are being hidden because after the war, there had been a movement known as the Simplification, where masses of people went around destroying books and killing anyone who tried to keep books hidden. They were afraid of knowledge, because it had led to the awful war. A man, Leibowitz, started a secluded monastery to preserve surviving books and history. The monks spend their days copying and memorizing the books and trying to relearn much of what was lost. Many of the books are so piecemeal, that they cannot understand them. Catholicism has developed over 600 years in a world hostile to knowledge and shaking from the effects of mass destruction. The traditions that have been passed down must be interpreted for the people of their present time. Some of the old traditions they cannot make sense of and some of them are very exaggerated. The sense of liturgical time and the liturgical ceremonies are much more intense than they were before the war, but they suit the people of the time.
Photo by Lawerence OP.Photo by Lawerence OP.
I sometimes feel, as a generation that is rediscovering old traditions, that we are doing the same thing. There are things in the Church that were simplified, and when we discover the more ancient traditions and try to take part in them, it is different than it was 50 years ago. There was something lost in all those changes that we cannot get back, but that does not mean that we cannot carry the traditions on. We are relearning them, and applying them to our lives now.

Thanks to Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificam in 2007, which allowed wider use of the old Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, following up on Pope Blessed John Paul II’s allowance in 1988, many more are discovering the older traditions that are such an essential part of the liturgy. Many have hoped that the old traditions would have an effect on the new traditions, and that the new Mass, the Ordinary Form, would be reworked to be less unlike the EF. Lately, on the New Liturgical Movement, there has been a lot of discussion on whether this “Reform of the Reform” is dead; those who hold this position believe that organic growth, the way that the liturgy developed from the time of Christ to Vatican II, of the new Mass is not possible. I would propose that the Church will not remain stationary when it comes to the liturgy, but that the changes will continue to happen slowly. They will take time, much more time than many would like. (There is an informative and interesting five part discussion of the state of the Reform of the Reform by Joseph Shaw on his blog.)
We were given the new Mass, put together by some Council Fathers, a little over 40 years ago. It was a break from the organic development that the old liturgy had come from, but the new Mass is a part of our tradition now. It is all that two generations have known, and only recently, have these generations been exposed to the older traditions of the Mass. Some have embraced it and seek out the Extraordinary Form, but most younger people go to the Ordinary Form. Those born since 1970 have been formed by and in the new liturgy; it is apart of their formation as Catholics. Even those born in the late 50s and 60s have very little memory of the old Mass. The New Mass is now rooted in the body of the Church.

The changing of the liturgy is not going to happen now; it is not going to happen next year. Those who prefer the Ordinary Form, need not fear that it is going to be taken forcefully from them, and those who prefer the Extraordinary Form are being given a chance to attend it in more and more places. They are both available to the faithful.

Is having the two forms in one rite necessarily a problem? Is it a situation that is harmful to the Church? I say not. While maybe it is unprecedented to have two Masses in one rite, a diversity of liturgies is nothing new to the Church. And as Pope Benedict XVI said in Summorum Pontificum, the old Mass was never juridically abrogated. The tension of the two forms of the Roman Rite was put there from the earliest implementation of the New Mass. In the earliest centuries of the Church, there was a different rite in most cities. The Ambrosian Rite of Milan still exists to this day, not to mention all of the Eastern Rites and their unique liturgies. In the Middle Ages up to Vatican II, many Roman Rite religious orders had their own liturgical rites, for example, the Dominicans and the Franciscans. Now we have the Anglican ordinariates in the Roman Church, which have their own liturgy. We are living in a time of liturgical tension, but we must carry on and see what traditions stay with the Church over the next several centuries. Maybe in 500 years, every city will have its own rite again, and the liturgies will be variations of the two Roman Rite Masses. It will still be the Sacrifice of the Mass united with Christ at Calvary.

My husband and I often look at all the Church traditions, the various spiritualities, and the many liturgies and want to take part in them all. We make a point to attend Eastern Rite liturgies occasionally, and read a variety of spiritual books. Why not let oneself be influenced by all of them? I think of the story told by St. Thérèse of Lisieux in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, where her sister Léonie offers a basket of playthings to Thérèse and Céline:
“One day Léonie, thinking no doubt that she was too big to play with dolls, brought us a basket filled with clothes, pretty pieces of stuff, and other trifles on which her doll was laid: “Here, dears,” she said, “choose whatever you like.” Céline looked at it, and took a woollen ball. After thinking about it for a minute, I put out my hand saying: “I choose everything,” and I carried off both doll and basket without more ado.”
St. Thérèse applies this to her call to give herself entirely over to God; it can also be applied to the Church and her liturgy. The Church can have all of the traditions, and live with them. They may, in time, merge together into one liturgy, or maybe having two forms of a rite will not be seen as such a problem in the future. I cannot predict what will happen. Only God knows.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI seemed to have a similar thought in Summorum Pontificum when he said:
I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.  In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13).  Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject.  Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal.  In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. “
As Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 called his bishops to open their hearts to allowing for the use of the old Mass, Catholics now can see this as a call to open their hearts to both Masses. Whether you prefer one or the other, they are both apart of the Church’s tradition. The universal nature of the Church allows for this. While there are many kinks to be worked out, for example, the differences of liturgical calendars of both forms, it is okay to have the tension. It does not mean that the Church is divided; it just means that she has opened herself up “for everything that the faith itself allows.”

Originally published at Truth and Charity...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Sunday of Lent Family Prayers

Happy First Sunday of Lent! Take a break from your sacrifices and remember the Resurrection! As I promised I am sharing the weekly prayers for our Lent "Wreath" in which we extinguish one candle. I took the prayers from the ancient Tenebrae service.

The prayers are in PDF form here. We did not get through them all, due to the kids' need for brunch. If you would like to shorten it, I would recommend shortening the opening Psalm.

Let me know if you use them and like them I will try to get next Sunday's on the blog by Saturday.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, March 7

1. Today is a great Feast Day in the Ancient calendar; it is that of St. Thomas Aquinas, M's patron saint. If St. Thomas Aquinas had an octave day, then it would be on M's birthday. In fact, since M is the head of our home, he has declared that there is an octave day, and it is in fact his birthday. So, there you go. Eight days for St. Thomas Aquinas start now. That also means that I have to bake a chocolate cake before dinner... Happy Feast day to my dear husband!

2. In case you did not notice, I have updated the blogs look. I hope that C is not too disappointed in the slightly different header. Let me know what you think. I have the old template downloaded, so if you all hate this one I might be willing to change it back. I think I really like it. I just need someone to help me add a few "gadgets."

3. This week has been pretty penitential for me. The poor baby/toddler, F, has been soooo cranky, and it has been really difficult to keep her happy. She had an ear infection about three weeks ago, which we treated with antibiotics. Then on Sunday she had a low fever that lasted through Thursday morning, plus major crankiness. We went to the doctor and got more meds for her ear, but they have not kicked in yet. She has been screaming half of the time and generally unhappy. She also has a huge bump in her mouth indicating a very large tooth about to break through. I have been used to a very happy and contented baby, and now she is so sad and so unhappy. In your charity, please pray for her that gets her tooth in soon and that she stops feeling uncomfortable, and pray for me that I get more patience with the kids despite my stress...

Good ol' Jane.
4. Five years ago, today, was my due date for G. She was born eight days after her due date, on the Ides of March. Kind of crazy. Maybe I should put everything aside this next week and reread all of Jane Austen like I did five years ago. That would be lots of fun. Before M and I were engaged he bought this used volume of her complete works; being in possession of that copy may have been one of the reasons that I consented to marrying him.

5. Thank you for all your prayers for my father. I found out from my mom, that he played piano for Ash Wednesday Mass at the church where he is employed. He said he felt like he was at 90% of normal. I guess I need to call him and see how he really is doing! Life just goes by so quickly, I forget to call! Dad, if you are reading this, we need to SKYPE! Maybe you can make F happy! Are you allowed to lift 21 squirmy pounds yet?

6. My next T&C post is due for next week, and I think I have an idea now. I have the hardest time coming up with topics, unless I am at Mass. Then I usually think of lots of things to say about Mass. How many Mass articles makes too many? Can there be too many things written about the Mass? I bet there cannot. So, do you think people would keep reading my posts if I just kept on writing about the Mass? I would be happy to keep on writing them. But if there are any things you really want me to write about, especially from the depths of the MA I once earned six years ago, let me know!

7. And this is for M, my philosopher:

 And this is for his students, who sometimes read my blog:
And neither is your professor... (meme from here)
Linking up once again with Jen at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lenten Lentil Soup

Our traditional Ash Wednesday and Good Friday dinner is Lentil Soup. The recipe is based off my mother's lentil soup recipe, but based is a very loose term here. You see, my dad always declare, "It tastes different this time!"

Here is my adaption:

I had every intention of taking a nice photograph of a untouched bowl instead of these dregs... 

Lentil Soup
(serves 6ish)

In a soup pot melt:

-1 TB of butter

Saute until tender:

-2 sliced carrots
-1 small onion

Add and cook for 1 minute:

-1 clove minced garlic


-6 cups of water
-2 tspn of Vegetable boullion 
(or just use Vegetable stock)
-1/2 lb of rinsed lentils
-14 oz. can of diced tomatoes (or fresh equivalent)
-1 1/2 tspns of salt
-dash of pepper
-1/2 tspn dried oregano
-2 TB dry parsley

Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils and carrots are tender.
Check seasonings and add:

-2 TB sherry 

Serve over  shredded swiss cheese.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
By T.S. Elliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again
Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice
And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us
Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying
Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.
Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.
At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.
At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.
At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.
Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.
Who walked between the violet and the violet
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs
Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,
Sovegna vos
Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing
White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.
The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word
But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken
Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew
And after this our exile
If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.
O my people, what have I done unto thee.
Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice
Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose
O my people, what have I done unto thee.
Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.
O my people.
Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn
Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings
And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth This is the time of tension between dying and birth The place of solitude where three dreams cross Between blue rocks But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away Let the other yew be shaken and reply.
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pondering the Long Lived Snowman

First of all, if you follow me through facebook normally, and are not using Facebook during Lent, you can follow me in two ways, add me to your RSS feed or sign up to receive email updates!------>
I have a lovely view outside my front window.

To the left is the three month old snowman and to the right is the two month old snowwoman. They were once young and beautiful, and now they are shriveled heads. Their grotesque look makes me think that they are more appropriate for October along with the skeletons and goblins people put on their lawns, but then I think that maybe they area appropriate for now. Lent starts tomorrow, and if they were human persons and could go to church, they would get ashes and be reminded that they are dust. They are not dust, though some dirt has mingled with their once pure white snow. But they will return to the earth eventually. But how many snowmen survive all of Advent and make it to Lent?

Here in Minnesota we must persevere through the rest of this severe Winter, and join it to our Lenten penances. I was explaining to G (almost 5) this morning about what penances our family is doing for Lent together, and then suggested she might like to do something herself for Lent. She thought for a moment and said, "We should make a cheesecake!" I think maybe someone is not able to distinguish between feast day celebrations and penitential seasons. She also declared that she loves Ash Wednesday because she really likes getting ashes.

We Spencers had a Shrove Tuesday Feast of bacon, creamy potato "risotto", and sauted strawberries baked in crepes with ice cream.  Have a happy Fat Tuesday, and tighten your belts for the Lenten season!
No, that is not my sippy cup.
I need to figure out how to make my camera make food look as good as it tastes...
Yes, yes, that is my wine...

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