Saturday, April 30, 2011

Making Mercy Available

I've been thinking something similar to this lately.
Defenders of this woeful practice argue that even during the 45 minutes a week confession is available, not that many people take advantage of it, so why increase the hours?

People who think like this completely miss the boat.

... The chintzy hours in which confession is available is a tremendous barrier to the growth in mercy that we all agree that we want. If the Church wants people to go to confession, then barriers to confession must be removed and the number one barrier to confession is availability.

I've noticed that every time our parish has held a penance service, say, for a special liturgical season, as well as the regular times confession is scheduled (when I've shown up, at least), there's a respectable line for as long as confession lasts. Sometimes, if only one priest is hearing confessions, and the line starts to stretch, the other priest at our parish will set up a screen in a chapel on the other side of the church, and sometimes people are turned away at the end of the scheduled time because preparations for Mass get underway; although usually one priest tries to stay as long as he can.

I can't help but think of that line in Field of Dreams, paraphrased: If you schedule it, they will come.

And I think, if it were practical in a parish of over 1900 families (if memory serves) and two priests, that ours would like this idea.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Quick Takes

Joining Jen's Quick Takes for another week:


So, how's your Eastertide going? I have heard from a lot of people that this Lent was particularly hard, either in terms of their Lenten sacrifices being more challenging than anticipated, or because they did not feel the season had been as spiritually fruitful as they expected, or believed it should have been. I wonder, will it follow that their Easter season be more uplifting because of a greater struggle more to get there, or (God forbid) will they be disappointed with Easter as they were with Lent?

Me, I kind of feel as though my Lent was a wash. I'm pregnant, so I couldn't fast; we gave up desserts and sweets but took Sundays off. I tried to pray more, but I often fell asleep if I held still too long. With alms, my right hand did okay and my left hand just kind of played along. I just didn't feel that I was sacrificing much of anything. I guess you could count the pregnancy itself as a sacrifice: I keenly feel (as does probably every pregnant woman) how with every child I am offering my body as a living sacrifice. But that's not only Lent--that's life. I just felt I should be doing more for Lent.

But on Easter Sunday my husband started a little ritual that will, I hope, outlive the Easter season. (It is a continuation in spirit, I think, of what I tried to do every Sunday when I was having my root beer or my peach sorbet, saying to myself, "This is a little Easter, praise Jesus who has died and risen for us." Not usually in so many words.) He will spontaneously say, "Christ is risen!" and I (and anyone else nearby) will respond, "Alleluia!" Sometimes it will be the fuller "Christ is risen! Alleluia, Alleluia!" and "Thanks be to God! Alleluia, Alleluia!" No matter what our mood or feelings, the battle is won and Christ shares his victory with us. I'm becoming more and more a believer in what are basically prayers of the will, like this.

I hope your Easter season is glorious!

The rest of my takes will be quicker, I promise. :-)


On a lighter note, about Easter candy: I am not going to get into a discussion about what is the best Easter candy, what is obligatory, what can't be borne no matter how traditional it is, but I would like to draw your attention to one little gem: Starburst jelly beans. These are not typical like the "jellybird eggs" (I still made sure to get those--I gotta have my black jelly beans!) or gourmet jelly beans. In fact, I don't think of these other jelly beans as particularly Easter-y, although since we don't really buy candy I don't know if they are available at other times of the year. But these Starburst jelly beans are so scrumptious--they have twice the flavor of anything else in our baskets, and that flavor is so tangy and fruity, better even than regular Starburst candy (which I love). They have become a regular yearly treat.


Have you read The Seven Silly Eaters? We got this book when we did in fact have seven little silly eaters of our own. Recently I got the idea to see if we could make a cake like the one they made in the book. I knew that the "method" the Peterson children followed would need a little adjusting, so I did a search and sure enough! I turned up this recipe by the author.

Sorry no final pictures--we had a few things happen in between turning it out and eating it up. It was lovely, though, with a cream cheese white icing. I'm thinking next time will be a poke cake with a lemon glaze all over it...mmm.


In light of the Royal Wedding today (I've watched only part of it so far), I will point out these two--opposing, you might say--opinion pieces about the relevance it has for us. For me, I will say that I am a romantic who tries to be a realist, and that I hope and pray for their happiness and success in marriage. I have friends who lived together before their marriage, and as much as their situations may have pained me, it did not tempt me to be some sort of doomsayer about their chances together or lessen my joy for them when they finally took the plunge. If the statistical deck is stacked against them--meaning my friends or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or whomever--well, every couple is different, and every one of us benefits from a little more prayer.


This is appropos of today (kind of). We enjoyed the movie Megamind; one of the laugh lines was when the puffed up villain gave a little monologue berating the heroine for being naive. He said, "There is no Easter Bunny, there is no Tooth Fairy, and there is no Queen of England." No Queen of England--ha ha, right?

Well, later I was reading a review of another movie (don't remember which one) and in the comments was someone protesting how, strictly speaking, the current monarch in England is properly referred to as the Queen of Great Britain rather than the Queen of England. I looked it up a little further and found out that, apparently, the last "Queen of England" was Anne Stuart in the 1700s.

Even now I still can't watch that line without laughing.


Speaking of movies, we have recently obtained the movie Tangled.

Our day lilies are blooming.

The kids noticed a resemblance between the magic flower and the lilies. They picked one the other day and ran around singing, "Flower, gleam and glow" and saying, "Mom! My headache/head bump/other hurt/boo-boo feels better now!" It was all surprisingly charming. It's nice to have a little touch of magic now and then.


Please pray for the tornado-struck regions in the South. We were lucky: our immediate area had no damage, and relatives closer to the swath of destruction are okay as well. But it's heartbreaking to see the headlines and the pictures, to read the headlines of grief and despair. This week of mercy, please lift up the dead and the bereaved in a special way.

Monday, April 25, 2011

This Easter Monday...

I'm pondering a thought brought to my attention by A Catholic Mom in Hawaii, a quotation:
Jesus had many witnesses of His failures, but none at His crowning success. His loneliest moment was His triumphal resurrection. He was a success first of all before God--the only worthwhile success.
Haven't you ever wondered at the fact that Jesus' resurrection was not a more public affair? That Jesus kept popping up discreetly, almost secretly--so much so that many of his closest companions, whom he had told what he was doing, had difficulty believing what was going on? And here he is, after all the pain and horror of Friday, gloriously alive--in the dark of night (or, at best, in a twilight), alone, except that the Father is always with him. I wonder how much he and the Father were especially united at that moment (just as I wonder to what degree Jesus could have been separated from his Father in death). Surely, at the instant when the Father raised him up, there must have been some exquisite experience of union, though there must have been some degree of separation that still lingered as long as he was on earth...

So, Jesus was not alone. And yet, those whom he had loved on this earth, whom he had walked with, eaten with, wept with, taught, fed, reprimanded, healed, and suffered for--they were'nt there. Even the one who best loved and understood him, who bore him up in everything she could, was not there to see him complete his victory over death. They weren't there to see his glory and dance for wonder and wild joy, they weren't there for him to hear him say, "See! This is what I meant all along!" Reunions would have to wait for the quiet, cataclysmic moments as in the locked room and on the way to Emmaus. Even that morning, with Mary Madgalene, would have an element of reserve. "Don't touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father..." Returning to his Father would be his final triumph.

This moment, for me, has a symmetry with the moment of the Incarnation. God the Son, existing in perfect and complete love with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, having no need for our love, nevertheless humbles himself out of boundless love for us to become man. Then, at his Resurrection, after living intimately with us for a lifetime, including years of public ministry, and only then completing his mission of suffering and death for our sake, he is raised in glory, with none of his friends and loved ones to share his joy--except the Father and the Spirit, beyond whom he needs no one.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Francisco de Zurbarán. Crucifixion. 1650s. Image credit.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Small Successes


Hmm. The week flew by, didn't it? I did accomplish something!

1) I started a major de-dusting of my bedroom yesterday. It is embarrassing how badly it needed it. Drapes, baseboards, floors (including underneath the bed and other furniture). Completion is scheduled for tomorrow but I may have to put that off until next week in favor of more pressing chores, making ready for guests. Still, I feel a difference even if I can't see it, and my husband says he can see it, and he's the one who counts!

2) Okay, in the spirit of humility, I am not going to spell out what it was, but I was able to complete a little project I started at the beginning of Lent without missing a single scheduled "checkpoint" (there were six), including the time we were sick.

3) These are Luke's tomato sprouts and Jude's bean sprouts. They are so proud of them.

And I have sunflower sprouts in the garden, we have real strawberries now (though the wild rabbits are feasting on them), we have some corn planted, and more seeds started on the back porch. It's a little late in our area for much of this, but not too late--certainly not June, which is when we started our first year gardening!

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real--4/21/11



Our roses in the back yard are huge and loaded with blooms. Jason planted them when we moved in because he thought I would like a rose garden. He was right. This variety is a common landscaping rose, known for its ease of care. These are gorgeous, and I love just to sit there and look at them, after I have done no more than an early spring pruning.


But this is the one that makes me really happy: my "Guadalupe rose." It's got these two beautiful shades of pink. On top the petals get lighter, almost to white, as they age, while the underside remains a deep pink. My red roses are showy and generous, but they can't match this one for scent. It has a sweet, slightly spicy fragrance. My daughter, who has a special connection with Our Lady of Guadalupe, told me today that this is her favorite rose scent, and I totally get it. There are probably more fragrant varieties--I'm not a rose expert, but that's exactly why I love this rose. I've never had any trouble with it. It always blooms for months, usually into December, so that I can have at least one pink rose for the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.


The kids were watching the eagle cam for a while, and when they told me today that they made an eyrie (when we were in the middle of preparatory chores, Easter coming and all), I confess I didn't think much about it. I found it at bedtime. A nest for the little ones. You can't see very well all the blankets "lining" it for them to cuddle up under. Look at those faces--snug and sound, and positively gleeful. :-)


Here's me, sort of. My only-five-and-a-half-months pregnant belly, and a sleepy Cora sitting alongside.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Five Minute Friday: On Distance

Here's how it works:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button in my right side bar}

3. Go leave some comment props for the five minute artist who linked up before you {and if you love us, consider turning off word verification for the day to make it easier for folks to say howdy}

On Distance

My grandmother left her family behind in Italy when she married my grandfather and came to America. When my mother married my father, she was the only one of ten siblings to live outside the state of Texas. And when I married in England (though we are both from the South), far from my family, and I came home, it was far enough from the home where I knew family and friends.

In one sense I feel that I am part of a legacy of distance and separation, "leave and cleave," and "forsaking all others." But I know that physical distance does not have to mean a cutting off, an estrangement. My mother remains close to her sisters and brothers; before my grandmother died, she and her family were able to visit sometimes and even now there is an occasional transcontinental trip.

I live in a community of military families--people whose roots must be easily transplanted to other climes, and who learn to forge friendships in the now and nurture truly special ones after transfers interject miles between. And I am a blogger and a reader of blogs, and I have seen friendships grow up between people who, living hundreds of miles apart, have never met, or meet only after months or years of virtual exchanges.

So there is another kind of distance, of which I am hesitant to speak--a distance in the heart. It is protective and cautious and isolating. Not always deliberate. Often fought against. Sometimes conquered. Physical distance may compound, but is not necessary, for this--estrangement. (Should that be the word?) Can you tell why I do not easily expound on it? It is in my own heart. I mourn that it is so.

But it does not defeat me. For I know my true home and destination, and I pray and trust my loved ones will be there with me one day. This is my last and great consolation when I miss them. To be with them where friendships are whole and there is no separation, no distance, but only perfect union in Love.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life Recently

Update: my effort to enjoy the beauty of everyday life. I was going to do a new post for Like Mother, Like Daughter's new weekly link-up (and actually say something), but my first thought was just to share this, and since we're pretty busy right now I'm going with it. Please say hello, and next week, I will be more communicative!


Craft Book Giveaway

There's a giveaway going on at The Crafty Crow--a really neat new book called Teach Yourself Visually: Crafting with Kids. There are still a few hours left to enter, if you're interested!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reflecting on the Moon...

I have mentioned before that I love the moon, but I have never tried to explain here the profound impression of its beauty on my heart. It is such a significant feature of creation and human history that surely the saints and mystics and theologians have often mined the imagery of its beauty and influence in their thirst to know God.
"When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established..."
Jennifer Fulwiler has written just such a piece, a beautiful "snapshot" reflection--I only wish it were longer. I have the feeling, reading it, that she's just jotting down some observations to share, and could easily go deeper and say so much more.

Go check it out.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Five Minute Friday: A few of my favorite things

Again, so grateful for today's five minutes... I wasn't going to participate today, but writing is one of my favorite things if I can just get started...

Coming out of this sickness is a bit like a bout of depression. You know you should be in a much better mood, things are wonderful around you--but you just feel exhausted, and more than a little colorless, and there's so much to do that there doesn't seem to be any point in even trying to tackle it, because you just know you will never be able to make anything better. But you have to. People are depending on you.

Some good advice: do something you love, even if you feel you have no taste for it. Today I hauled out the paints and the stash of wooden projects on the craft shelf, and we went all out. I let the kids do it, and I just took what joy I could in watching them (and helping them when necessary, but not getting bogged down). And guess what? It was enough. After cleanup (which I knew I needed to spearhead) I still had enough energy to tackle a little of the massive project that is sorting our stored clothes, to put away two baskets' worth and put together a box of things for a little one who didn't have anything. And then at the end of it was a husband who rescued me with dinner. Some of my favorite things.

Go get started at the Gypsy Mama.


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