October 18, 2015
I spend a lot of time in the back of church, a lot of time. Coordinating Children’s Liturgy is my current excuse but being a mother of little ones for the last 25 years has placed me frequently in the back chasing a child, or rocking or swaying a babe in arms. I’ve seen a lot.
I wish I could express the difficulty and pain that I observe but not without joining that to the faith, devotion, and if I may say so - the faithfulness of our estranged brothers in sisters. These are the shadows that grace the back of our churches.
Before I do, I also see some funny stuff :
Daddies and Momas struggling to keep toddlers from running down the center aisle. Older sisters who take toddlers to the bathroom for the third time. (Yea, it’s a game all right.) Teenagers, and then there’s the ushers . . .
There’s this Everyone Loves Raymond episode (The Prodical Son, Season 4) that cracks me up. Raymond’s Dad is chastising him for not attending Mass. Once Raymond realizes that his Dad, an usher, is spending Sunday morning chattering with his friends in the back of church, the fight is on. Raymond realizes his dad isn’t going to change and he asks, “Then can I be an Usher?” “No positions available” replies his dad, “It took me twenty years to get this position.”
I guess Ray thinks, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
I love our ushers. They are great men with a hello and an easy smile. They are ready with a pat on the back or a clever comment. They would make great car salesmen. One Sunday I was razzing them, and myself, “Hey!” I said, “Are you going to church this weekend.” “We are at church” they smiled, not getting my point. “Really?” I continued, “Are we attending Mass? I’m not sure I am. I may have to come back tomorrow morning.” “Oh no,” they assured me, “We’re at Mass.” “No.” I responded, “I don’t think I am.”
Multi-tasking is my biggest asset and flaw. Always wanting a “twofer”, you know – two for the price of one, my hands can’t stay still and often land in someone else’s business. That reminds me, I also need to go to confession. Anyway, I spend a lot of time in the back of church, teaching Children’s Liturgy, checking on Children’s Liturgy, getting something for Children’s Liturgy and before I know it – everyone’s kneeling. It’s good that we kneel; humans need a sign when things get serious. I love the kneeling.
So back to the back - I watch families struggle to get to church, strong dedicated families. There are a lot of stories unfolding in the back. Many people who just don’t feel comfortable. Lots of people, it is true for the people who lean against walls during Mass and leave after the Consecration. They slip in a side door, enter as far as they physically can and watch Mass through the large glass windows that separate the foyer from the church.
They stop. They stand. They leave . . . but THEY COME.
I wondered for the longest time, while jiggling a newborn, why they come. They are not able to receive Communion, they turn after the Consecration and they leave. Why come at all? I’ve changed my mind, maybe its not that they feel obligated to come but that they can’t help but come. They hear the call from Jesus, “Come!” and they want to, they can not help themselves. They desire to be with Him, to see His Face. They suffer an obstacle to full-union and this break makes receiving the Eucharist impossible. For those in an invalid marriages for example, confession offers forgiveness but not an removal of the obstacle. Here’s where the evidence of there faithfulness is shown, they do not force God’s hand. They believe in the Eucharist. They believe in God’s word. They believe in the teaching of the Church that says to do this, you must do that. They don't say, “I don’t care. I want to receive, I’m going to receive.”
How many of us, me for example, should take that care with our conscience, should believe and explore more critically our motives and the acceptance of sin in our lives. How much longer the lines at Confession be should we all take God’s Word so seriously? So they come, they stand, they depart. I believe in great sorrow, with great longing . . .
Please pray for all estranged from the Church.
Shoes have been a problem lately, really a problem. That is a surprise because shoes, finding shoes, is ALWAYS a problem. My husband says that it takes 3 miracles just to get to Mass; the first two to find shoes the third is an open pew. That is the truth.
You know you are in trouble when you wake up and starting praying to find a matching shoe. So, you see to escalate the problem is, well . . . a problem.
John was dressed this morning when I told him to find his shoes. I was at a disadvantage last night because I was picking up girls from dance and wasn’t home to say prayers (sad) or notice shoes. Worse is that John has had problems putting on his shoes in the morning even when we find them.
The daily dialogue:
“Time to get up, where are your shoes?”
“Let’s get dressed. Here are your shoes?”
“Finish up. Socks, here are your shoes :) "
“What would you like for breakfast, put on your shoes.”
Ten to fifteen minutes later, “Okay, let’s get those shoes on.”
Okay, I’m not that friendly or nice fifteen minutes later.
So this morning, I have NO IDEA where the shoes are. I am anticipating the worst and setting emergency measures in action; Shoes before clothes, breakfast, potty – no, I let him go potty, we had to find the shoes. As I made breakfast, I gave him new places to look only to find him wandering. “THAT’S NOT LOOKING!” I said. I usually tell him to “look with my eyes.” (Momas have special skills for finding things - it is our superpower.) “I am looking.” He replied. “NO, you’re not,” I said, “You don’t have looking eyes, only walking feet.” We have experienced this before. We had one child who after being asked where their shoes were, they looked up. UP!
I gave up and began looking in the first place I had suggested and found his shoes waiting in the middle of his room. They were in plain sight, clearly visible.
It was a miracle!
Through clenched teeth I proclaimed that "From now on, shoes will be in the mudroom, before snack."
Now I’m getting serious.
Funny, it’s only taken me 20 years.
P.S. Thank you Saint Anthony. You are the best!
October 2, 2014 - The Feast of the Guardian Angels
This image of the guardian angel was in my bedroom as a child. It was a comforting scene and not until I was older did I recognize the peril of the broken bridge and the dramatic drop below. The size of the angel was so grand and yet so maternal. I didn't see the danger, only love.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Making those days memorable at home are as simple as praying The Guardian Angel prayer at dinner as a family or a perhaps a special dessert. Today, I will enjoy making an angel food cake. It has become an annual tradition at our house. I would have made an angel food cake for the Feast of the Archangels but that day always seems to sneak up on me. The Archangels' feast is wonderful and in celebrating it I make sure preparations to celebrate our closest and constant friends, Guardian Angels.
Baking an angel food cake in recent years has been difficult. The one step cake mix sold by the major brands rise dependent on a chemical reaction. The batter is thin in consistency, as indicated on the back of the box. The increase that the cake requires is amazing; almost tripling its height and volume. I would try to bake the cake in a quiet house, which was almost impossible. A house without little feet running was imperative but when an empty house resulted in a cake that fell in the final minutes, I wondered if I would have to buy angel food cakes at the grocery store. I yearned for the cake mixes of my youth.
The old fashioned mix was a two step process. First, water was added to the egg white powder, beat to stiff peaks and the flour packet was gently folded in. The batter was high and light when baking began. I started to search products for the two-step mix and found that they are available. I found that most in-store brands are two-step recipes. Read the back of the box, looking for the directions indicating two separate packets. Avoid Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines in this case and make sure to keep a few extra on hand if these too become unavailable. In that case, I guess it will be time to return to an even earlier tradition when angel food cakes were made from scratch. I bought my first sifter this summer anticipating as much; but for now, I will benefit from the convenience of a good cake mix. Traditions don't have to be complicated just filled of meaning and love. Remember that every tradition begins with that first year.
May our Guardian Angels enjoy their day, knowing our love and appreciation for their guidance and protection.
Squirrel or Just Nuts?
September 28, 2015
Thanks for waiting. My last blog was about moving to fast,
that was part 1 of a story,
This story -
It's been a busy fall. I think all my recent blogs have said that, it must be getting really boring, sorry. There are so many legitimate reasons; school starting earlier, a few logistical changes but most of it was my choice and a total waste of time. Finally, I started making progress in my work, slowly, and I was feeling better - more in control.
As I finished a big round of sorting socks and putting away summer clothes, I felt good. I had experienced a huge win. I had gone through my spring and summer clothes, replaced them with my winter things. I collected a pile of clothes for donation and decided rather than storing my summer things I would pack for our Christmas vacation in a warmer climate. It made all the sense in the world; I could skip over like a dozen steps and have the daily satisfaction of knowing that I was already packed.
I smiled as I stepped into the shower. I considered – hmmm. How much fudge should I make for Christmas?
How long can gingersnaps be in the freezer and still taste fresh?
Hmmm . . .
There was a fleeting thought that I had in fact, LOST MY MIND!
Remember, I am the same person who just a week earlier had the lofty goal of not hitting someone with my car, not losing my phone five times a day, and moving slower.
Naw… I’m ok, I responded.
I am just taking care of my family, just planning ahead so I can enjoy the holidays.
Just preparing for . . . winter.
I’m like a squirrel.
Yes, I repeated, "Yes. I am a squirrel, collecting acorns. Preparing for winter, that makes sense."
Then God reminded me quite loudly,
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, “This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself,
“Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich
in what matters to God.
Luke 12: 16-21
Can fudge be treasure? Can a packed suitcase be treasure? Can Christmas gifts purchased early, be treasure?
“You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared,
to whom will they belong?”
Time to make a change.
I continued reading the passage in Luke that follows the parable of the “Rich Fool” now that I know the fool's name ~
"He said to [his] disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and
what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.
For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.
Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn,
yet God feeds them.
How much more important are you than birds!
Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?
If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?
Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin.
But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today
and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you,
O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat
and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore.
All the nations of the world seek for these things, and
your Father knows that you need them.
Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your belongings and give alms.
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure
in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
Luke 12: 22-34
Just in case you missed it,
"O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat
and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides."
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