Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Know it is Easter, but it is Never to Late to Talk About Lenten Stational Churches!

I am being commanded to rest today by my dear husband. I will blog soon about out eventful trip to the ER and the passing of our little miscarried baby yesterday. For now, while I bum around the house on my couch I am finally getting to sharing our great Lenten family devotional we did this year.

Normally, when one thinks of "stations" during Lent, one thinks of the Stations of the Cross. These are wonderful for praying with during Lent. We decided to do another type of station this Lent: the stational churches of Rome. The Pope used to celebrate Mass in a different Roman church everyday for all of Lent; there are also stations for other liturgical seasons. The Pontifical North American College still follows the tradition of attending Mass at each of the stational churches. There is a more detailed history of the tradition on their site. Since we are not in Rome (though maybe we will be blessed with a Rome semester at some point), we are marking the stations on a map.

Here we have our giant laminated map of Rome. M bought this during our visit to Rome while we were studying abroad. It is pretty neat and has a lot of the churches marked already.

Then I went to the New Liturgical Movement and found their posts on the Stations from a few years ago and complied a list and photos of each stational church. I also made another document that has teeny tiny photos with the comparable number from the first document. These I printed, cut out, and "laminated" in clear packing tape (I like to think of that as being resourceful).
 I think they are pretty cute!
Compared to a pen in size.

Every day of Lent we took out our document that told us what the stational church was that day and read about the church from our Lenten volume of Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year (St. Thérèse of Liseux and her family used his works). 
Here it is with our traditional St. Andrew Missal.

We used the map in the St. Andrew Missal to find the location of each church and then stuck them to the map with sticky tack. Well, stick tack mixed with pink silly putty. Some child of ours got into those two items last year, and may have needed a hair cut because of it.

It was neat to "travel" around Rome during Lent, especially knowing that the NAC seminarians and priests were actually celebrating Mass at the stational church each day. The kids loved gazing at the map, looking at the pictures of churches, and discussing how the martyr saints died. Even F got in on it and said "I SEE! I SEE!" until we showed her the pictures.

Now, if you want to see a real family tour of Rome, I highly recommend my friend Mary's posts from Holy Week, Easter Week, and the canonizations of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope St. John XXIII. I linked her April archives because she has about two weeks worth of awesomeness to look through.

Monday, April 28, 2014

In Which She Picked Her Own Clothes Before a Well Visit and Mondays

Photo by Morgan. Used under Creative Commons license.

Last Monday was a rough sort of day. We were still dealing with the miscarriage news (well, let's just be honest, we still are), and I had to take G to the doctor for a scheduled well-child visit which was supposed to be in conjunction with a progesterone injection. M and I barely got up to get me ready in time and I left the kids to his care as I took a rare morning shower and drank my coffee. G even got a bath since she had spent the previous day playing outside on a farm. We had gotten home too late for baths the night before. At least we were clean before we went in.

I am always thrown off at well-child visits for G, since they have a new set of questions for each particular age. I suppose there is a list somewhere, but really, I am trying to avoid the "is my child on track with the standard expectations for her age" mentality. So, anyway, our doctor and I began by discussing if I had any concerns about G and we discussed her random food allergies (eggplant, banana, and watermelon) for awhile and decided to get an epi-pen for her in case we ever need it. Then Dr. went through her list; I was able to answer confidently on all the questions, until she asked if she could draw a triangle and a square. I fumbled for an answer. The last time I had tested her on that was last Spring when we finished her capital letter handwriting book. I said I was not sure, and Dr. suggested that it was just something we should check on. I did not even think to mention that G can write all of her lower case letters, capital letters, and numbers. Those are far more complex than shapes. I felt like our home schooling seemed like a failure. I hope to jokingly correct my mistake when we go in next. But then we got to the "safety" section. No, we have not sat down specifically to do safety things, but I remind her to look both ways at streets, stay away from strangers, and whenever I set off the fire alarm with my cooking G is very aware and ready to run to the back fence. So, maybe we have safety down after all. Except for the memorization of address thing, and phone numbers.

But then we got to the physical part, and when G removed her shoes, I saw that the socks she had picked for herself, were her sparest of spare socks. The ones I have not pitched, because on some cold winter night they might have been her last clean pair to keep her toes warm. They both had absolutely no heel. But they also were pink, and they were loved. Think the velveteen rabbit of socks. Of course she picked them for herself, but I could not help but be embarrassed that I brought my child to the doctor in holey socks when she has plenty of non-holey ones.

Then, as Dr. was listening to G's lungs, she informed me that G had pneumonia. Pneumonia from that little virus the children and I all had the week before. She had been fever-free for three days, but had an occasional phlegmy cough; I could not believe it. My poor under-dressed daughter, who can dress herself like a five year old should, had pneumonia. We had kept her out late two nights before and let her play in the windy farm air the day before. It was not that severe of pneumonia since she was happily playing most of the time, but still, there it was.

Also, G was crushed, because she has been talking about getting her five year old shots since she was three. And told the nurse and doctor about how she could not wait to get her shots. But now she does. No shots when you have pneumonia! She should get them in a few weeks with F. Anyway, that was last Monday.

Let's just say I was a bit flustered on last Monday, and understandably so, but the perfectionist in me could not handle it.

So, I brought her home, and M watched the kids and I did some clothes shopping, finally finding a few tops and skirts I liked. I have been perusing racks for months. I did not have the heart to go to Bread Co. alone, like we were planning so I grabbed some Jimmy John's on the way home.

This Monday is a gloomy one. It is raining non-stop. It is supposed to rain all week. Apparently, this nasty, chilly, rainy weather is making way for nice warm spring and summer weather, which we all could go for around here. At least it is not snowing. We had a snow storm last May, but hopefully no more this year.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, April 25

1. First of all, thank you all for your prayers during our time of loss of our tiny baby. It was hard for me to share what was going on; it almost seemed easier to keep it private. But since I asked for prayers, I have felt an abundance of grace helping us through this time. I am even finding myself quite happy and hopeful a lot of the time, and remembering our loss is less painful.

2. Today, in addition to being Easter Friday, is also the Feast of St. Mark, which happens to be M's name day. To celebrate, since we are having dinner with our parish home school community, I had the girls make cards for M. I gave them a quick example of a lion drawing, and realized my poor drawing skills:
The girls did a fairly good imitation of mine:
L (3) drew a mouse-like lion, drew M,  and traced capital letters.
G (5) did a lion, her father, lots of hearts, and her name, which is edited out... She also tried to write the date and gave up.

Drawing, check. Writing practice, check. Religion, check. Pre-school for the day, done.

3. When I picked out earrings today, G insisted on me wearing my lions. I think I last wore these to the zoo.
Earring selfie! (Sorry, M, I had to use that word; I know you hate it.)
I am pretty sure I got these from my awesome friend, C, in college, but I do not remember. I had a little thing about lions back before I knew M. Maybe it was a premonition? I am working up the gusto to wear them to evening Mass today. Maybe my veil will hide their ridiculousness.

4. I spent yesterday morning distracting myself by doing a little editing of my blog formatting. Do you see what I did? Any suggestions for other pages/tabs? I could collect things like recipes or posts in certain topics into other pages. Maybe I can delve into home organization next week, as opposed to virtual, while the weather is crummy and rainy. My intentions of organizing during the Winter months vanished with a busy schedule and visiting St. Louis a few times to see my dad.

5. Saturday, during our Easter preparations, M went out to the garden to plant a blueberry bush he bought on an impulse from Aldi. While digging, he found the den of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter Rabbit. Flopsy and Peter got away immediately, but the other two sat cowering in corners of the garden until M placed them back in their den. The girls thought it was great fun and wanted to keep them, but everything we Googled recommended against it. F (17 months) could not get enough of them and stood by the garden fence saying, "Buh-ee! Buh-ee!" And when I made her bid them farewell her voice became mournful and sad, "Buh-ee... buh-ee..."
Cottontail scared and cold.
When we checked the den on Tuesday, they were gone. The thing is, we thought our garden was rabbit-proof, and now we find that a pregnant rabbit found a way in to give birth and has been returning twice a day to feed her babies. We might have to get the anti-rabbit spray after all to protect our garden from Peter and his cousin Benjamin.

6. If you are my friend on Facebook, you have already heard about F stealing L's jelly beans. This toddler is quite into her candy. I was keeping the baskets on the table, and she was climbing right up, finding foil-wrapped candies, declaring them to be, "Choc!" and biting right through the foil with her sharp front teeth. She is a little obsessed with chocolate; I wonder where she gets that? I cannot reliably get her to eat foods besides scrambled eggs, meat, processed cheeses, and candy. I guess we have another picky one on our hands, which is too bad because she was really into fruit and vegetables back when they were her only foods. Well, M can get her to eat anything, so as long as he is at a meal, she eats.

7. Last of all, the gracious hostess of Seven Quick Takes, Jen is releasing her book Something Other Than God next week. It is about her conversion to Catholicism from atheism, and should be a good read. I was not cool enough to pre-order it, but I promise I will read it once I get a hold of a copy. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

St. Thérèse, Jane Austen, and Raising Saints

The family life of Bl. Louis and Zelie Martin and St. Thérèse, from here.
I have been thinking a lot lately about raising a holy family and what it takes to do so, especially when there are so many negative influences in our society. I want to keep my little girls safe in their Catholic world forever, though I know that I cannot. I want to preserve the innocence of their minds and hearts, so that they do not know about great evils committed by others. I don’t want anyone to tell them that things that are wrong are perfectly normal. Most of all, I just want them to love God, to grow up loving Him, and to continue to love Him always as faithful Catholics.

Since I was pregnant with my first daughter, there have been many things that have made me worried about the way society is tending. The current extremely liberal and anti-Christian value regime is the first of my concerns, and then the “normalizing” of non-traditional “marriages.” Everyday there is an extreme amount of hate towards those who stand up for the truths of the Catholic Church, and my children are going to experience it more than I am. I wonder, what is the secret to raising my sweet girls into faith-filled, loving women?

The answer seems to be to have a tight-knit, loving family with a solid prayer life. When one has a close family life, where everyone is on the same page, one has an irreplaceable foundation. I have two examples of family life among sisters. My first example is the Bennet family in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  And the second is the really existing family of Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

For those of you who have not read Pride and Prejudice (and no, the five hour movie does not count, but it will help a little), the story centers around the Bennet family of five daughters, a cynical, phlegmatic father, and an oblivious, anxious mother. When discussing her and her four sisters’ education without a governess to a new acquaintance, the wealthy Lady Catherine Dubourg, Elizabeth Bennet explains, “Compared with some families, I believe we were [neglected]; but such of us as wished to learn never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary. Those who chose to be idle, certainly might.”

The Bennet sisters, being left to form themselves in virtue and with a poor example from their parents turn out a variety of ways. The eldest daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, are virtuous, educated, and socially aware. They know how to act, and do it well. The middle sister, Mary, spends her time disapproving of her younger sisters and reading Forsyth’s sermons. The youngest sister, Lydia has no sense of decency and leads her older sister Kitty along in her thoughtless and eventually vicious ways. The Bennet family, while always around each other, is not a loving family, and the less virtuous members give into their desires at the expense of the virtuous members.

The lack of discipline and formation lead to an unfortunate turn of events for the family, which could only be corrected by those who were well formed. Austen shows clearly how one’s natural virtues guide one in life, for better or for worse. But she does not look at the work of supernatural virtues in the life of Christians.

The summer my husband and I married we went to a series of talks on Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin at the Carmelite monastery in Buffalo, NY. We were inspired by the holiness of their lives and how they raised their family in prayer and virtue, giving up their own hopes for religious vocations. For a more detailed description of their family check out this article by Christopher J. Lane. I would quote the whole thing just to show you how beautiful the family was, but you can go and read it! What makes the success of their saintly family life so powerful for Catholic families today is that they lived in an increasingly secularizing society. The Church had been under persecution, and the Martin family preserved traditions in their family life. Lane explains, “The Martin family’s devotional practices were nourished both by the long tradition of Catholic spirituality and the newer fruits of the Catholic revival. Early morning daily mass was standard, as were prayers in the intimacy of the home,” and “The family enjoyed themselves at home and in the community.” And as a result of a deep prayer life and family community is that the five daughters who grew to adulthood all entered religious life.

We learn from the Martin family that to raise saints, one must be a saint, but even without the sanctity, which merits canonization, we can still seek to imitate them. We can commit to a devotional family prayer life, create a structured, tight-knit community, and raise our children to love God and to seek virtue.

We learn from Austen, that even when parents fail, some children could turn out virtuous, but that discipline is necessary for the formation of virtue. I imagine that the character of Elizabeth and our beloved St. Thérèse had some things in common as they both learned to overcome their vices and become better. But unlike Austen’s characters, the Martin family had the benefit of seeking supernatural virtue, which helped them to overcome their natural weaknesses. Catholic families today cannot survive without supernatural grace, which comes through reception of the Sacraments, devotional prayer, and good works.

And while I sometimes worry that our little family is surrounded by an increasingly evil society, I also remember the many beautiful Catholic families, raising devout, virtuous children. I encounter these families in my local parish, in mother’s groups (virtual and real life), and in the extensive Catholic blogosphere. There are real live holy people raising little saints right now. Let us hold tight to each other and encourage each other in virtue and protect the intimacy of family life, which is so essential for the formation of our children.

Originally posted at Truth and Charity...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In the Midst of Losing the Baby

A sunrise from our backyard earlier this month.
We found out on Holy Thursday that our new little baby may have stopped growing. The ultrasound dates were slightly off from my charting, the baby measuring at 6 weeks when I should have been 7 weeks along. Good Friday brought us the news that my HCG levels were too low for the baby to still be growing. We had lost the baby. We were hoping to share our hopeful news with the world after Easter, but instead it is news of our loss.

I woke up several times Friday night, and all I could think about was the lack of life inside me. When I am pregnant I always think about myself in relation to the growing baby, and my way of thinking had to change. I had to stop thinking of Advent as the time of a new baby. I had been so looking forward to another Advent baby, preparing for Christmas early, and sitting back and loving my baby while the world rushed around us preparing for Christmas. But now at the end of Lent, we knew that Advent was not going to be about our new baby. Our new baby was passing on without us.

Saturday we immersed ourselves in Easter preparations, went to the Vigil Mass, and then Easter Sunday we spent with some family in Wisconsin. It was easy to not think too much about it. Though L (3) told me several times that she wished that we still had a new baby coming.

Monday morning I went back to the doctor for G's (5) well visit and a blood draw for me. Another HCG level would confirm things for sure. As we went out to the car I saw a friend walking in who told me her news of just finding out she was expecting. I congratulated her, outwardly cheerful, but inside my heart ached. M had the day off on Monday, as he had had on Friday, and I was so thankful to be able to be close to each other during our immediate experience of loss. Though we have always been that way; every hardship since we have been together, we have experienced as a couple. It is only normal for us to be drawn together now.

Tuesday morning, I woke up sad again. I knew that today would bring the final news. I saw a picture of my sister's sweet baby boy on Facebook, and I lost it. Her little boy is so cute, and I realized that I was also hoping for a little boy. (Though am pretty sure we are will only have girls.) I wondered all day if things would start passing soon. I moped about the house, relaxed with the kids, and could not find it in myself to take on house work. We managed about ten minutes of preschool activities, but that was about it. M came home mid-afternoon, and I took time to run. He then did yard work with the kids and I showered and we still waited for the final phone call. It came, and my HCG levels still showed no more living, growing baby. But also that things are not going to start to pass for a couple of weeks. I did not think I could bear it, waiting two weeks before things are resolved.

My sorrow is not worry about the fate of the baby, for I have entrusted the baby to the mercy of God, but it is the loss that hurts. It is M's loss and the children's loss. G and L know what has happened, they know that they will not know this baby, grow up with this baby. F (17 months) is happy not to know, and is a consolation in her cheerfulness and babyish ways. I have found night nursing times with her to be so sweet lately as I mourn our lost baby. And now I think I am going to make it two more weeks with this little baby inside me. It is my last chance to physically be with this child, even though the baby's soul has passed on.

Please pray for us, that we find healing. Please pray for me, that the baby passes safely for me, and I know the chances are slim that we will find our smaller than 1 cm baby as he or she comes out, pray for that to. Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, April 21, 2014

He is Risen!

Christ's Appearance to Mary Magdalene By Alexander Ivanov (1806 - 1858) (Russian)
Happy Easter!

We made it to two out of three for the Triduum this year. G was the last of the children to have the cold, and her fever still lingered on Thursday. Friday we all went to the Mass of the Presanctified (meaning the host was presanctified) and then we went to the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. It started at 8pm, which some would say was too early, but any later and we probably could not have managed. As it was, we did okay. The kids are still feeling it from the late bedtime last night, and again yesterday as we got home late from our Easter gathering with family.

We had a lovely time at M's uncle and aunt's farm yesterday, and the weather was beautiful and warm. It was a happy Easter. I hope yours was as well, and hope you will enjoy Easter week. :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In the Desert

Last night, on an impulse, opened a scrapbook I had made for my, then, fiance in the nine days between our engagement and Christmas. I made a beautiful record of our relationship starting with our first semester of college through when we became engaged a little over two years after we had met. What struck me about it was that on every page I had put a meaningful passage from scripture; back in college I spent time reading scripture everyday. After we had kids, and since I have been blogging, I have focused my reading on other things. In the short ten minutes of prayer time I set aside, I have been reading spiritual books or lives of the Saints. While, my husband and I have gotten back into praying our breviaries for morning and night prayer, my daily encounter with scripture only happens if we make it to Mass, and that only happens if we get out of bed in time for 7:30am Mass. For past week some child has been running a fever or had a nasty cough, so we have been trying to let the kids sleep. But it is not just the past week, the whole of the Winter, we were always making excuses of one or another not to go to Mass.

I am perfectly aware that daily Mass going is certainly not required of a family with three small children, but I know that when we go to daily Mass, we are a happier and better family.

We have a strong family prayer routine, with morning prayers, meal prayers, and bedtime prayers, but I feel that I have been missing something. I miss going to adoration, which I was able to do daily when I lived in Steubenville. But now we live two minutes from a perpetual adoration chapel, and with the kids going to bed at 7:45pm every night, there is no reason I can't take time at least once a week to go and pray, to bring my Bible and sit and read and pray and journal.

I am realizing that I need a change, and trying not to be frustrated with myself for not realizing this sooner. I realize now, that the emptiness I have been feeling lately, my desire for more companionship, is a need for growing closer to God. That is what is missing now. I am highly dependent on a life of routine, and when I don't have a routine, things tend to fall apart mentally. I can't focus, I can't plan, and I hang on to the semblance of routine that I do have, spending the rest of my day in aimless activity.

But the great thing about being human is that there is always room for improvement. Now is the time to improve, to pray, to trust, and to seek guidance. I am not sure that I have a conclusion here, and I am going to resist my need to wrap this up in a perfect ending, because I have no more to say. I guess I am in a good spot for the Triduum.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seven Quick Takes, April 11

1. We have a walking one year old! F at 17 months has been our latest walker so far. She is a bit of a perfectionist, I think, and did not want to commit to walking until she was sure she could do it completely. She is now walking about 95% of the time, a huge difference from about 2% of the time. It is pretty cute to see her stand up, get set to waddle, and walk with her elbows at her side and her hands sticking out to each side with her fingers spread wide. It does make life a little more complicated since she wants to spend every second she is awake "'side" in the backyard waddling around after her sisters. When she is not out with them, she stands on the kitchen nook bench and watches longingly. Occassionally, while watching she will get down and go to the door demanding, "Socks! Shoes! 'Side!" And becomes angry when she is refused.

2. Last night F woke up around 1:30am with an awful cough, wheezy breath, and a hot little body.  I nursed her and put her back to bed only for her to wake up again 30 minutes later. The poor girl was so sad and could not even say words without talking. We decided to give her some pain relief and I finally got her comfortable after nursing again. She slept until 8am, but was still coughing ans wheezing, so we skipped gym co-op and went up to the doctor instead. I am maybe a little over cautious when it comes to breathing issues, but we do have a family history of asthma on both sides, and L has already had episodes. By the time we saw the doctor she was acting a lot better and did not cough for him once. He said it would be okay to nebulize her until the wheezing goes away even though her lungs sounded clear. I do wonder if maybe she is developing seasonal allergies, and they were triggered by the crunchy leaf bath she received from L in the backyard yesterday.

3. To encourage the big girls in our outing to the doctor this morning, I promised them fried cheese curds from Culvers, if they were good. There is a Culvers just past the highway we take home from the doctor, and since we realized that they have this delectable wonder of a food, it has always been in the back of my mind. We might have to make it a tradition. First of all, they are meatless, so they are okay on Friday. Second, they are cheese not potato, so healthier because of protein. I can't believe I never stopped there while pregnant with F. I just always went to Burger King across the way for fries and a milkshake. Now it is Culvers all the way. Thirdly, a large is just the right size for the girls and I to split, and once they cool a little bit they squeak! I am going to try using my HSA card next time, because I am pretty sure the necessary stop at Culvers is a medical expense that counts towards our deductible. Just saying...

4. The best fried cheese curds we have ever had are not from Culvers or the State Fair, but from a family restaurant in Albert Lea, MN called The Trumbles. They have typical family restaurant fair and quality, but when we saw the cheese curds on the menu, we knew that they would be done to perfection. And they were. We have stopped there twice on our way home from St. Louis, but usually we just stop at a Culvers 30 minutes from Minnesota, because it makes a perfect second and only stop in the 8 1/2 hour drive. If we waited for Albert Lea, we would have to make three stops.

5. Today at lunch, L (3) told me her understanding of Hell and Purgatory:
L: "If you are just a little bit bad and a little bit good, when you die, you go to Purgatory for a time out, and then you go to Heaven. If you are really bad, when you die, you go to Hell and stay there forever!"
Me: "That's right. Where did you learn that?"
L: "G told me!"
G (5 and in a matter of fact tone): "Daddy told me all about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory last summer."
 6. For those of you not in Minnesota, I just want to let you know that, while we have snow on the ground in some places still, Wednesday was sunny with a high of 75! It was glorious. Next week does not promise to be as warm, but anything about 30 is okay with me! Above 40 is even better, and I dare not hope too much for 50s, since this is April in Minnesota after all. M is going to build a garden box this weekend, and we might get some things in the ground next week. And since F is finally walking and loves to run around the yard, I can spend a good amount of time gardening.

St. Gemma in her final resting place in the Sanctuary of St. Gemma in Lucca, Italy. M took this photo when we stopped in Lucca for a couple of hours.
7. Finally, I want to wish you all a happy Feast of St. Gemma Galgani. She is my Confirmation saint, and had a really intense life in sickness and in prayer. Here is an account of her last months of life during which she experienced the Passion on Good Friday with Jesus and passed away on Holy Saturday. To celebrate I made some hot cross buns, using this delicious recipe:
Leftover after breakfast.
For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen's Conversion Diary!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

When Catholicism is in Your Bones

An authentically Catholic fish fry. Photo by MBK.An authentically Catholic fish fry. Photo by MBK.
Since we moved to Minnesota, my family and I have been meeting a lot of converts, many of them my husband’s colleague at the Catholic university where he is a professor. It seems that more of them than not are converts. The other day a distinguished colleague asked my husband, “You are a cradle Catholic, aren’t you?” After my husband assured him that he was, his friend said decidedly, “Then it is in your bones.” Every year I live, I realize more and more how Catholicism really is “in my bones.” There is something about being Catholic from infancy that takes over one’s whole life, and the further one is from one’s conversion to the faith the more time the Catholic sense has had to set in.

One of our convert friends, Brantley Milligan, wrote a piece for Alethia about 4 Things that Catholics do that Rightly Scandalize non-Catholics. It seemed to me that his first point on how Catholics don’t talk enough about Jesus missed something genuine about Catholicism. Mr. Milligan says that, “Even among otherwise faithful Catholics, it sometimes seems we can spend a lot of time talking about the Church, the clergy, the Pope, the Mass, moral teachings, the Sacraments, and yes, Mary and the saints – all important things – but hardly ever mention Jesus.” I would disagree and say that by talking about these things, Catholics really are talking about Jesus.

At a recent play date with other Catholic moms, they singled me out as the only non-convert in the group. For a moment I agreed and then I looked at the eight children playing in the yard, and said, “Actually, the kids and I have you converts out numbered!”  It seems that this depth of Catholicism is not limited to cradle Catholic.  The convert Walker Percy got it in his novel Love in the Ruins:
“The best of times were after mass on summer evenings when Samantha and I would walk home in the violet dusk, we having received Communion and I rejoicing afterwards, caring nought for my fellow Catholics but only for myself and Samantha and Christ swallowed, remembering what he promised me for eating him, that I would have life in me, and I did, feeling so good that I’d sing and cut the fool all the way home like King David before the Ark. Once home, light up the charcoal briquets out under the TV transmitter, which lofted its red light next to Venus like a ruby and a diamond in the plum velvet sky. Snug down Samantha with the Wonderful World of Color in the den (the picture better than life, having traveled only one hundred feet straight down), back to the briquets, take four, five, six long pulls from the quart of Early Times, shout with joy for the beauty of the world…”
It is about the Sacraments. Growing up in the historically Catholic St. Louis, attending college in Steubenville, and living four years in culturally Catholic Buffalo, NY, one realizes that all Catholics know that being Catholic really is about “getting our Sacraments.” From the Christmas and Easter Catholics to the Daily Mass goers, everyone knows that the Sacraments are central to being Catholic. Some Catholics settled for the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, First Reconciliation.

After that, they think you are set if you make it to Mass on Christmas and Easter. I am not sure if they acknowledge their Easter Duty of receiving communion once a year or going to confession, but they get the basics. And then they come back to Church again for their Catholic wedding. Then we have the Catholics who realize that those few Sacraments are not enough, horrible sinners that they are. They confess weekly, receive daily, and still hope to see everyone in purgatory. Either way, Sacraments are central. Every cradle Catholic knows that.

And the ones who sit back and think about them, actually realize that the Sacraments really are an encounter with God. Jesus Christ, Himself, gave them to us, so that we could have life in us, His life in us. So, all of the focus on the Sacraments is actually about Jesus, and not just Him, the whole Trinity. All the focus on the Sacraments is really a focus on Jesus, but you have to get to catechism class if you want to know that. What non-Catholics don’t understand about us Catholics is that all these seemingly excess things in our faith are really about being with Jesus. If they don’t believe that the Eucharist is actually Jesus Christ, that the priest we confess to is in persona Christi, and that the pope is the Vicar of Christ, then they are going to think we never think about Jesus.

Another part of Catholicism that gets into ones bones is devotion to Mary and the Saints. We have been reading the lives of the saints to our children from the very beginning, and now whenever they hear about a martyr, they grin at each other at the thought of a martyr and ask, “But how did she die?” Then later, we hear them playing games about being martyred, going to heaven, and appearing as St. So-and-so. Or they play that Mary appeared to them. The stories of the Saints and Mary’s apparitions are the kind that stick in the heads of children, and they are fascinated. They want to be saints as well, and adult Catholics often lose sight of the focus on sainthood. But sainthood really is about being with God forever in Heaven.

Adult Catholics are much more realistic about the possibility of going to Heaven on their own merits than children are. And that is why we are so thankful that Jesus gave St. Peter the keys of the kingdom and said: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This is where we get our theology of indulgences, which again is in our bones. The indulgences come from the treasury of the merits of Christ and of the saints, which is dispensed through the Church. Pope Clement VI explains it in his Jubilee Bull of 1343:
“This treasury Christ committed to the care of St. Peter, who holds the keys of heaven, and to his successors, his own vicars on earth who are to distribute it to the faithful for their own salvation… To the abundance of this treasury the merits of the Blessed Mother of God and of all the elect, from the first just person to the last, also contribute, as we know; nor is it at all diminished, first on account of the infinite merits of Christ, as already mentioned, and further because the more men are drawn to righteousness by having this treasury applied to them, so much the more does the store of those merits increase.”
Fortunately, for us less saintly folk, there are the Saints who contributed to the treasury of merits. Take my Confirmation saint, St. Gemma Galgani, whose historical feast day is tomorrow. She was a “little victim of divine love,” offering the sufferings of weekly stigmata and all the pains of the Passion for the conversion of sinners and saying this, “It is true Jesus, if I think of what I have gone through as a child, and now as a grown up girl, I see that I have always had crosses to bear; But oh! how wrong are those who say that suffering is a misfortune!” And even if the sufferings of saints like St. Gemma are not enough, we must remember that there are the infinite merits of Christ. One drop of his blood would have been enough to save us all, but he did so much more and the grace is still infinite. But then, we are also told from childhood to “offer it up,” and I am certain that the offerings of a small child also add to the treasury of merits. Maybe even the offerings of a lukewarm, adult Catholic are meritorious.

The longer one is Catholic, the more one is aware of one’s own sinfulness, and the more devoted to the Sacraments one becomes. That is why daily Mass is full of the oldest generations. I know many holy people, who go to daily Mass, and would never ever consider themselves to be holy. They see themselves as sinners, and that is a huge part of being Catholic. You know, the Catholic guilt. It is hard enough to rid oneself of one’s own sins without having to worry if praying the rosary, going to Mass, and having a Mary statue is going to scandalize the evangelicals. While we are one body, we are all different parts, and we cannot all be the perfectly understandable Catholic to those outside the Church.

When Catholicism is in your bones, you learn not to care if others are scandalized by particularly Catholic things you do. You know that you are focused on Jesus, you know that you are following the Church as best you can (or that you really could be doing better), and you know that you are a miserable sinner, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I am so glad that that is back in the Confiteor of the New Mass, because the words and the chest beating actions capture a sense of Catholicism that modernity is trying to do away with.

The whole of The Four Men by Hilaire Belloc, in his self-deprecating way along with his love of his home, good food, and drink, embraces the Catholic sense that all creation has been redeemed. Belloc explains “that work is noble, and prayer is its equal, but that drinking good ale is a more renowned and glorious act that any other to which man can lend himself.” In his discussion of nature and life, one can see that Belloc had a Catholic worldview seeing sacramental value in everything. The cradle Catholic is familiar with the Friday Fish Fry, Bingo Night, Parish Festivals (or the Lawn Fete), and the eighth sacrament of coffee and donuts. And we must remember that the first fish fry was hosted by Jesus himself on the beach of the Sea of Tiberias over a fire of charcoal [briquets].

Now the thing about these particularly Catholic events is not that the food or the drink is particularly good, but that these things are what Catholics do. Further, they are done by the Body of Christ (and for the sake of raising funds). It is kind of fun to sit in an overcrowded hall with fellow Catholics and wait in a long line for a plate of greasy fish, macaroni, and coleslaw. These things, too, have been redeemed. We know that these events will never match the level of the Eucharistic banquet in its substance or that the mass produced food contributions of the Altar and Rosary society will meet the level of a five star restaurant, but the kids will have fun running around and might even eat the food and the adults will enjoy some lively conversation. These things are too about Jesus, even if He is not mentioned by name throughout the whole of the event.

The great thing about the Catholic Church is that we consist of everybody, as Robert P. George described over at First Things. The Church consists of a diversity of professions, ages, prayer, and people. We are not all going to be Saints, and I am not sure we need a reformation in the Church, but maybe we all need to plod along in our little Catholic lives and work on our own reformation of ourselves as we participate in the life of the Church.

Originally at Truth and Charity...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cloth Diapering: Five Years and Counting!

I could write a post as a tutorial about cloth diapers, but there are so many great posts about them already. My friend Jacqui has not one, but two posts. And Anna has a nice one also. I could also give you all my reasons that we use cloth diapers, but others have said them well. My friend Mary wrote this one a couple of years ago, and I still remember it!  Further, a friend from college wrote this blog all about cloth diapering a couple of years ago.

We had a cloth diaper baby shower, hosted by my dad's side of the family. His sister works for Cotton Babies, so she took charge of my wish list and we received everything and more from my family months before G was born. At the time we were living in an apartment with coin laundry, but even with that the cost came out about even and we felt we were doing our part for the environment.

Here is a look at what diapers look like after three kids:
This is our 15lbs and up stash, which has seen more wear and tear than the little baby stash.

A pocket diaper with inserts. This used to be velcro, but I switched it to snaps when L was a baby. We use these overnight when we don't wimp out and use disposable overnight.
Great all-in-one bumGenius. These were from my aunt, who got them from work for free. It is a good thing we have only had girls... My sister got a matching set, which she has converted to snaps.
These are our covers, which used to have velcro. The velcro wore out, but once again snaps to the rescue! Also, you can see some econobum covers at the bottom of the stack.

Our large, once unbleached, prefolds. These are the best and so durable, though a little frayed now.
Cloth wipes. In my opinion, the number one reason to cloth diaper. They save so much money!

And that is what diapers look like after three kids have used them many times. I think they have a few more rounds left in them. Oh, and the best part about diapering for me is the my husband does the diaper laundry. ;)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thoughts for a Wednesday

I do not really have anything in particular to say, but I just need to do some writing. I have had a few deep thoughts in the past 36 hours, and even started a few posts in my head, but they are now all missing. It is funny how the daily care of a home, children, and husband can do that to you. I am also thinking about the mail box, because I heard the mailman come while I was getting the kids down for quiet time. I would check it, but yesterday a very excited three year old decided to check the mail and found it empty. I am going to save it for her.

I need to work on dinner a little bit this afternoon, because I have worked out a system of having the older two do a workout video with me on Wednesday afternoons while F is still napping. It has been working well, but that means dinner will need some prepping soon. We are having a mushroom, feta, and spinach quiche. I am pretty excited about it. I will let you know if it turns out as amazing as it sounds. The same three year old go very excited about the prospect of pie for dinner, when I answered inquiries into dinner's contents. And speaking of food, I have some really yummy leak and potato soup sitting in jars in the refrigerator. I am going to resist it. Maybe we will eat it with lunch tomorrow. It was last night's dinner with grilled cheese. Alright, enough about food.

We really need to get more planning into our gardening this year, but there is still snow covering our garden, plus where we plan on building a garden box. I really have no idea when planting is supposed to happen in Minnesota. Someone once told me that county's have a publication that recommends when to plan what. Does anyone in Minnesota know where I can get my hands on some guidelines? That would be really nice. I actually just want a lesson in gardening or a great book to get me through the first summer.

It is supposed to snow tomorrow and Friday, so I think I am going to push back my outdoor Spring plans longer, and just do inside things. I have gotten pretty comfortable with our inside routine. Throwing outside into it all, just throws me off, especially for the non-walking 17 month old who wants to play. I am not going to let her scoot around the yard and ruin all of her pants. She will just have to learn to walk or stay inside and watch her big sisters play outside.

And now I have some pie crust to make.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...