Sunday Night LIVE!

Right now, and for the next coupla hours, you all can have the amazing experience of being able to be at the Vigil for Life!

It’s streaming, right NOW, right HERE! Of course, an even better feed would be on your own television screen, but if you’re already here….you can run the feed in a window up in the corner even…just saying….

It’s at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. and it’s filled to overflowing with people from near and far, of all different backgrounds and ideas and even houses of religion (tho make no mistake, it is overflowing with Catholics, lay and religious alike…an awesome gathering).

Before Mass, folks wait for hours, Tom said approx 10,000 present, turning folks away. Wow


But the one idea that unites everyone in this Mass, is that life has intrinsic dignity and is precious, all of it, all of them, no matter what, no matter who, no matter how or where.  It simply does.

This vigil is a witness to it.  Tangible, visible, audible, spiritual, bodily.  It precedes the March for Life that takes place on the Mall tomorrow, but it is in my mind the most moving part of the whole weekend.  Because here is where you can see and hear and feel hearts and souls being lifted beyond the constraints that bind them here.  And, even better, lifted together.

Go, look, listen, imagine, pray.  It’s awesome.

**Keep your eyes open for my dear ones, Tom and the big girls are right there too.

Little Girl Lamb

It’s the feast of St Agnes today.

St Agnes by Zurburan

She is often depicted in art with a lamb; her name means “lamb” in Latin, “pure” in the Greek.  Thus, the iconography.  Not surprisingly, she is the patron of  young girls…more specifically,  the patron of young girls who have been victims of sexual assault.  Correspondingly, she is the patron of chastity, which is a topic I have been mulling for years now with the teens filling my house.  How to teach what the concept really means, the fullness of that word..not the tiny limited prudery that is inferred by our attention deficit surface dweller culture, but rather the mind blowing actuality of what true chastity/keeping to the truth of who we are – heart soul and body – can bring.  But that’s a whole ‘nother post, to be sure.

Anyhow, I  have four teens now. St Agnes is a patron I will continue to hit up for prayers; for my girls’ courage and perseverance and sure inner guidance to what’s true and truly good….for them not to get sucked into and wounded, literally or emotionally or spiritually, by this sordid hard world we live in.  Because we all need all the help we can get.

St Agnes, by El Greco, of course.

From the Collect (prayers for the day): 

Almighty ever-living God, who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes, may follow her constancy in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


On the Radio! Radio……

It’s my boy! Ok, my favorite novice friar.  And all his novice brothers.  Every day!

NOON.  Be there or have a slightly less lovely day.  Just saying. NOON.  That’s the time (eastern time, I presume).  You can also find the online streaming, here.

I’m so excited.  I might even get to hear him cantor, which I love, anytime.  Even as a group though, they sound terrific and what’s  not to love about the chanted psalms?  The Mass? I don’t know either.  Anyhow, I’ve even figured out how to download it through an app on my phone for when I’m out and about: TunedInRadio (also RadioNinja, and 00Tunes will find this station).

So if you want a little peaceful break in  your day, at NOON eastern time, tune in Sacred Heart Radio from Cincinnati and listen to my dear boy and his new brothers!  Follow this link to find out more…I love these guys!

This Sacred Heart station streams other EWTN content during the other hours, as does another local link, WRSN radio.  So, lotsa catholic content online and on the airwaves.  But, just in case you’re interested in the new novice brothers…..every weekday at NOON you can hear my favorite guys: right here.

Oh boy!

My boy….last time I saw him…..:

Immaculate…what a concept


Saint Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary
Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse
 Oh, it’s a big feast today!  It’s one of those feasts: an uber Catholic one. It’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. It’s actually a Solemnity, which means it has even more import…so it’s a biggie!

 This is one of the big Marian feasts, and one that often gives many folks some consternation (from a scratch on the head to fits).  For a good explanation of it all, go here (and scroll down for all those, “What’s up with that” “How can that be?” kind of responses).  I can’t give you a great theological treatise on it.  It took brilliant theologians from the east and west to determine this one over the centuries, but they did because we are human. And our inquiring minds want to know, and puzzle and ponder.  So those who have gone before us prayed and debated and concluded.  I can say that it only makes sense to my puny brain.

Pierro de Cosimo, “The Immaculate Conception and Six Saints”
For a long time, I thought that the “immaculate conception”referred to Mary’s conception of Jesus, you know, with the descent of the Holy Spirit and Gabriel and all…clean, tidy, right?
But noit’s actually about Mary and her being preserved from the stain of original sin.
Confusing, a little, huh?
Well, this is how it parses out in my old mom brain: God himself is all love and of course, without sin.  God came to us in his son, Christ, who was also without sin (being God and all).  Since all purity and all love cannot coexist with the stain of sin, how could Christ come to us as a man, without first having a pure ‘vessel’, if you will?  Well, he couldn’t, that would not correspond with the natural/divine order.  Growing in utero is, utterly, coexisting.  So, if God cannot coexist with sin, then a human mom to be would have to be found, sinless.  And thus, since God is beyond time, he prepared Mary, {from her conception of course}, to be without sin.  Because God knew, outside of time, that Mary would be the perfect (literally and figuratively) mom for Jesus.

Now, I think that’s cool!  It makes perfect sense to me and really is one of those ‘clap your hands, I get it” kind of moments.  Yeah, it’s uber Catholic.  But hey, I love being Catholic because (well, so many reasons) its cool and rich and takes my breath away.  And of course,  I love feasts….so it’s a good day!

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

**Disclaimer: yes, you saw most of this last  year.  But it’s advent and I need to be frugal w/ my net time.  So instead of wracking my puny brain to find another way to say this. I’m gonna go with what I said.  Because I meant it then and still do. Thanks for understanding…

The Sacrament Electric

Today is a big day in the Coffeehouse.  Little Man is making his first confession tonight.  Or, to put it officially: tonight he receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Now, this is sometimes one of those divisive issues: that whole “Why bother with going to confession?” question.  Well, to that and to start an answer, I offer this perspective:

It’s true, in general our sins are always the same, but we clean our house, our room, at least every week, although the dirt is always the same.

Confession is necessary only in the case of grave sin. But it is very useful to go to confession regularly to cultivate cleanliness and beauty of soul, and to mature little by little in life.

Pope Benedict XVI
h/t to Julie at Happy Catholic
I’ve written about how much I have grown to love confession, here.   I didn’t use to love it.  And honestly, for a time in my life, I didn’t fool with it much.  That was sheer guilty fear, that.  Go read this post, you’ll see why I left it aside for a good while and how I came back to it. But again, the issue is with the need to go to and confess, to a real life sitting and maybe judging person.  Yikes! Why bother? I mean, you can pray and ask for forgiveness for your sins to Christ alone, inside your own heart, right?
Well,  yes.  But, the healing that comes from the actual grace of that sacrament is, simply put, electric.  Sometimes electric complete with the lit up ZING of it all.  Sometimes electric in the quieter sense of a warm light coming back on to chase away the dark.
But the actual, real, truth of this sacrament is that it’s another quietly radical event in our jaded world, playing out in the quiet corners of our churches and hearts.  It’s radical and true, it’s biblical: John 20:21-23.  Go see, I’ll wait.  This sacrament, the absolution received, gives us real strength and Grace to go out and try to do better.  What’s not to love about that? Who doesn’t need or want that?? I don’t know.
Some might think a second grader is too young for such a hefty sacrament, such a possibly scary sacrament.  He’s seven, almost eight.  But I disagree.  My son, my little man, he is old enough now to know the difference between right and wrong, between his selfish acts and his charitable ones.  He’s old enough to say he messed up, aloud, and to bow his head and say, “I’m sorry. Forgive me.”  He’s old enough to repair relationships that have been dinged.  And he’s old enough to understand how to stand up and step out and try again with new resolve.  Even if, especially at his age, it’s little things.  Even those little things, they make a difference.  They can chip away at relationships and our sense of self.  And trying to do the right thing, even in the little moments…?  Well, that’s how you can change the world.
And that, that knowledge of the power or reconciliation, of forgiveness, of faithfulness and repair…that’s a mighty strength.  An awesome gift.  Please keep my little guy in your prayers today, I’m proud of him and grateful for this boy and this gift of grace.

Advent is here! Happy New Year!

It’s the first day of Advent, which means of course that it’s the first day of the new year – the new liturgical year, I mean.

So, it’s an exciting day, liturgically speaking!  Not quite the kind accompanied by fireworks and excessive alcohol….better.

We prayed with the new missal at Mass today…and, frankly, I was kinda expecting a really bumbling stumbling through it.  I thought it was sound and feel all awkward and even a little weird.  You know, old dog, new tricks and all…me.  But it wasn’t! It didn’t feel so at all.  It was actually  kind of lovely.  It is a good new change, to more sacred language.  Also, there was just a great attention, and intention to the prayers, mine at least, probably  and particularly because it’s new and thus cannot fall into habit.  Today required more FOCUS than many days.  Ok, see, I admit it, I am possibly the most distractible person you could find.  And that’s saying something as I have several kids with bona fide ADHD…so, really, I know from distraction!  (And yeah, save the flaming on the adhd topic….really dated debates there; been there, done that….).  

Anyhow, so it’s a really quietly lovely day. My Jon is heading back up to college to finish off his semester, but he’ll be home again soon, happily.  It’s my Goddaughter’s birthday as well, happy bday  Livie!  It’s a quiet full Sunday.  We have new really  beautiful prayer and responses to savor.  We have a new liturgical year to start all fresh and focused.  And, of course, last in this post but not least, it’s the first day of Advent.  I’m pulling out my Advent candles and my celtic table wreath in prep for dinner, when we will light the first long purple taper.  We have set out on our walk toward Bethlehem, a road that is mostly interior though it has lovely exterior sights to see and ruts to avoid.

So, we begin.  Happy New Year, walk with me, I love the company….

photo source

The advent of Advent

Advent begins tomorrow!

It feels early this year, but I suppose that can’t be.  Once again, it’s sorta snuck up on me and I’m feeling all behind before I even begin.  Yikes.  So, to that end, today I’m going to mindfully try to prep my interior self to accept my inevitable winding sloppy stumble through this season of Advent.  By which I mean, I already KNOW I’m not gonna be as prepped as I hoped to be.  I do NOT have the christmas list finished, heck, it’s not even begun…I”m still in a minor denial of it and a squinting gaze of “Hmmm, how best to tackle this, this year?”   This year is a bit untethered; there are changes this year inside and out.  We are in the midst of a noticeable, keenly observed, evolution (Which is to say that we all are in the midst of the unmarked evolution, all the time, right? But this  year, I’m seeing  feeling marking it).

So, here’s what I know:  The big: in our Church we go to new, more precise, liturgical phrasing and a revamp of the missal, the liturgy of the Mass in order to better direct our hearts souls and prayer vertically – toward the holy, the divine.  It will increase our awareness of the sacred, right here, right now, and beyond. How exciting is that?  I’m sure a whole ‘nother post to come on that one, it’s that big.

The other big: my eldest is having his first Christmas with his “new family:” his Dominican family.  And while I might leak a tear here and there, and try to push (with fluctuating success) the blues that threaten to buffet me from missing him….I want him to have a really happy holiday season and just relish his new traditions.  I want him to savor the richness and goodness in these beautiful new traditions, to laugh at the quirks of his new family/companions, and to really enjoy and appreciate these holidays.  I think he did for Thanksgiving, I heard it in his voice and it made me very happy and answered my simple but fervent prayer of the day.  I want only the same for him for Christmas and Advent…and that’s the same as I claimed for myself when I started out on my own and began my own, now much loved, holiday traditions.

The smaller, but also so important: I want to accept my inevitable inability to “do it all” and not let that tank my holiday happy before it even settles in.  I want to TRY to get most of it sort of figured out and/or taken care of this coming week (Bwah ha ha ha! – hey a gal can dream!) and then I want to slow down (My friend Zoe, she inspires me).  I want to read and be PRESENT and just soak in the richness of this season.  I fail every year.  But, hope springs eternal and I’m hoping, once again.

So the stuff:

  • I will link if I can to the UCSSB Advent Calendar, daily, because it’s a goodie and  has other cool links to follow too.
  •  You know that there will be a glut of Catholic stuff, great saint feasts this month and just because golly, it’s Advent and that’s what it’s all about, right?  That’s why this season is so great!
  • I have some adoption updates and managing through the season, the landmines, kind of thoughts rattling around in my head.
  • I have life in general posts, and lets not forget this month/season begins the bithday-palooza calendar in my house, so you’ll be seeing a bunch of bday posts.
  • I have to put up wreaths, but not too soon as we keep them up til Candlemass
  • Need to help Coffeedoc find a fir tree to cut that is LESS than three hours drive away, as the kids are in mutiny regarding the schlep drive….possibly impossible
  • Need to get our Advent candles ready – done (hooray, a first!)

So you see, I have a lot of stuff rattling around in my head.  And instead of waiting to come up with profound or pithy posts, I think the  only way for me to simply and mindfully wend my way through this season is, oddly enough, to sort it out through typing and posting.  Only then, perhaps will I be able to declutter my brain and find the silence and slow there too.  So, thanks in advance for enduring if you will.

last year's school Christmas play

It’s the advent of Advent.  I love this season, not for the surface, but for the deep.   Exciting times ahead!

Last year.

The Departed.

It’s the Feast of All Soul’s Day!

"All Souls Day" by Perry Morgan III

Now, this is the day we remember all the faithfully departed.

You might think that we did that yesterday.  Well, yes and no.  Today we remember those souls that have passed out of this earthly life, our loved ones…and might still be in (get ready for it) Purgatory.  Yup, I said it.  Well, I typed it.  Purgatory:  that uber Catholic doctrine.  That historic sticking point between Catholics and other christian denominations.  So many find the entire concept of Purgatory offensive, somehow.  I think it is just SUCH a comfort!

Because let’s face it, it would be really nice to think that every single one of us, when we die, goes straight to heaven and is blissfully happy for the rest of eternity.  But, that would be a fairy tale.  Or, it might be your idea that it’s ALL a fairy tale and there IS NO hereafter, after all.  So, in that case, “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”  But, that would be a nightmare.  So, what’s left? Well, whats left is the all too reasonable concept of purgatory!  Because it only makes sense.  Think about it, as a mom, say my kid screws up…say, breaks a window with his baseball.  Well, yuh, he can be well and truly sorry, he can apologize, I can and will forgive him.  But, um, the window? It’s still broken and needs repair or replacement.  Reparation.  So, there is a real actual consequence, in real time, for his bad decision/error/accident.  So, he takes the time to fix the window, or do the chores to earn the money to help replace the window.  THEN, after the repair/consequence, it’s all over, gone, done.  We move onward.

Isn’t that the same in our lives, here? Aren’t we, here, supposed to model love and the family of it?

Well, yuh, when we are doing it right, that’s just what we are supposed to do.  So, when it comes to dying….yes, I will pass on.  And I do and will confess my sins and feel true sorrow for them and want to repair that relationship and I trust and know the divine mercy we are promised and taught.  But, um, I still gotta repair the relational consequences of my bad decisions/ actions/ choices…both with those I’ve hurt here on this earth but also on a spiritual level.  Because it IS all a relationship.  And really, God’s mercy doesn’t outweigh justice. They are both omnipresent.  So, his mercy forgives.  Ahhhh.  But his justice means that until my soul, my-self, is truly pure, repaired…then I can’t even try to stand in the light of God – meaning heaven.  So, purgatory is the gift of a foyer.  It is a genius stroke of creation by the smartest architect…the one who knows that we need a place to scrape the mud off our boots, so to speak.  To do the last checks of sorting out and repairing our foolish choices, and then take a deep joyous breath and enter the heavenly bliss.

Walter MacEwen, 1860-1943, "The Absent One on All Soul's Day"

It’s a gift of mercy, really.  It’s merciful AND just to require that reparation.  Because we all know that we don’t really feel right about our  mistakes, until we’ve set them right again.  God doesn’t need us to repair the window.  WE need us to repair the window.  It’s merciful AND just for there to be Purgatory, to have a place where we can do the work to repair our souls, to fully prep.  And while it might SEEM like it would only be merciful to let everyone, everyone, go to heaven as soon as they pass on…that VERY instant…well, maybe that wouldn’t be very merciful at all.  Not to them, because they wouldn’t maybe be ready for it, not really.  And, it’s not like going to the park, the beatific vision is like the most amazing reunion, ever.  You prep for that sort of thing.  It wouldn’t really be merciful to us left behind, either.  Sounds comforting, but are we SURE, really SURE that each and every one of our beloveds were totally prepped for their passing?  Were they ready for an instant step into mind blowing bliss or the eternal turn-away from that very bliss?  Are we sure that they had sorted out all the hurts or the questions or the actions and repaired those that needed it?  Hmmm.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to figure out what my teen is thinking on a good day, much less old Uncle Jasper or loved ones from far away that I don’t see nearly enough.

That whole judging another’s soul thing – quite beyond my pay grade.

So, I turn back to purgatory.  Again, such a comfort and a hope.  Because it’s still heaven, it’s just the foyer.  And the “pain” purgatory comes from being SO close but not yet there, and now what’s waiting is revealed and even MORE desired.  Talk about tantalizing! But, even so, it’s enveloped in hope and mercy and justice.  So it’s wrapped up in gold.

Whew! Another long rambling scrambling traipse through my brain.  Sorry ’bout that.  But, this is what I’m thinking about today.  This is why I have this blog.  To show that I had brain function and synapses firing at one point in time…if only to prove it to myself…even if they randomly fire and spit out jumbles of ideas.  And to remember things I  might not want to forget (because, yes, it’s still all about me me me).

So, for all our departed, happy All Souls Day.  You’re not forgotten.

Photo by Evana, Pruskow, All Souls Day

From the Mass for the dead:

[for all our departed brothers and sisters]
Merciful Father,
hear our prayer and console us.
As we renew our faith in Your Son,
whom You raised from the dead,
strengthen our hope
that all our departed brothers and sisters
will share in His resurrection,
who lives and reigns
with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

ALL saints day!

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints!

All Saints Day, Wassily Kandinsky 1911

That means that today is a big, big feast day! I know, we call it a “solemnity” even though it’s one of the biggie high feast days.  You might think we’d call it the “big bash feast day” or the “fabulous feast” or something.  But, in her wisdom, the Church knows that we all love a good feast/party quite well enough and that we need to also recall the fullness of the reasons for any given feast that’s big enough to be called a solemnity.  She’s always teachin’…our Church.  But, even though the word “solemnity” makes you think we are all serious and gravely solemn, it’s not really all about that.  It’s more about the SCOPE of the feast.  It’s a way to label a feast as really big, deep, wide, broad…FULL.  So, how does all that carrying on apply to a feast of the saints?  I mean, the saints: ya da ya da…we talk about them ALL the time, right? Well, you know I do!

But today is the day we get to remember the full spectrum of the saints! Not only the rock star saints and the celebrities and the poster boy or gal saints.  Today we remember that there are a legion of saints enjoying the Beatific Vision that are not on any rosters, except the rosters of our own little families and our individual hearts or forgotten history.  Meaning, all those little folks who lived saintly holy lives, way back when and even now in our modern era…but didn’t do anything in particular to be recognized, to be noticed…well, today is their big day.

Today is the day we can look to those quiet or ‘regular’ lives of holiness and know that they count; even if they actually, at their own time, flew under that radar.  So, for the Joe’s and the Janes, the Ida’s, the Elizabeths, the Tomas’, the Abe’s, the Godada’s, the Guday’s,  Vladimir’s, Ezra’s, William’s, Belaynesh’s, Judit’s, Amelia’s, Francois’, Helen’s, Lida’s, Lavida’s, Oliver’s, Orville’s, Paulos’, Myng Joo’s, Sylvia’s, Gustav’s, Constantin’s, Violet’s….well, you get the idea.  For all those names that we can’t really know over the centuries – today is the day we recall that they too, these ones we don’t know, yet, are enjoying eternity and are part of the “communion of saints.” They too, are cheering us on in our little mundane regular lives; praying for us even.  Because they know, certainly more than the rest of us, that these little lives count….despite or perhaps because of their small quiet ripples.  So, this feast day is for the little guys.  Ok, for the bigs too.  But, that’s why it’s a solemnity – it’s for all of them, and thus, for all of us.

All Saints Day 1, Wassily Kandinsky 1911

How cool is that?

I love the communion of saints! I love the liturgical year!

{And, if you’re feeling like really marking this feast, here is the Litany of the Saints…

and for those of you who want to know more,  here is a good explanation of this prayer.}

Happy All Saints Day!

Girl talk and holiness: An advocate

It’s the feast of St. Teresa of Avila!
I love her. I claim her as one of my patron saints due to our shared tendency toward massive headaches and migraines. Only one who has them all the time can really understand how they scramble you…and she did. So, she’s my gal!

Painting by Francois Gerard, c. 17C

But more importantly, St. Teresa of Avila is just one amazing woman and saint. She is one of the three women Doctors of the Church (a distinction noting that her spiritual writings are both sound and very important, influential, indeed foundational). For a woman of medieval times, that is no small accomplishment, not to mention: staying power! Her books such as Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection are just amazing reads. Not fast page turners, but mind blowers. You have to stop every few pages and just sort of…digest it all. And then soak it in, let it sink in….it’s great great stuff and will change your prayer life. She founded the Discalced Carmelites (Meaning “shoeless,” again, what’s not to like?) and had an ongoing friendship and correspondence with the mystic and poetically powerful St. John of the Cross {And if you want a really phenomenal book, tough, dense, but OH so worth it: read the compilation/commentary on these two together: Fire Within, by Dubay}.

But on another level, not the “resume” angle…St. Teresa of Avila appeals to me because she was first of all a real living, breathing woman. I know, they all are, doh. But what I mean is that she was a woman of opinions and ideas and kind of stubborn and pushy, even when that wasn’t always overtly sanctioned in the culture of her time. She was extremely social and loved to sit and chat and flirt even…she was quite beautiful and knew how to use it too. She had to struggle against the urge to chat and flirt and gossip, and spend too much time doing it, because she could lose afternoons to it.

Sound familiar to any of you, especially you gals? Um, yeah. That stuff IS fun. Total temptation.  Sounds pretty modern to me.

St. Teresa’s monastic cell at the Convento de la Encarnación, Ávila
Kinda beautiful in it’s own stark simplicity, don’t ya think?

And yet, even so, St. Teresa could hear in her inmost self the whisper of God who loved her as she was, loved her more than anyone else could. And she responded, bravely, to that irresistible call. And it brought her the ecstasy of union with God in prayer. And that amazes me and intrigues me as I know firsthand how hard it is to push all those opinions and flippy chitchatty conversations out of my head to pay attention to God himself. She knew that frivolous conversation impeded her progress toward holiness…..and she dreaded nothing so much as delusion and the siren call of distraction from that path.  Frivolous conversation? Distraction? I’m the poster girl for it. But St. Teresa gives me hope and I have hope that she prays for me…for my attention to what is important, for responding to that call, that whisper, for my headaches, for being brave enough to listen through the din of my modern mundane life.

Sculpture by Bernini, “St. Teresa in Ecstasy”
So, happy feast day!St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us!

**Much of this was posted several years ago…I’ve been in the trenches, busy, but today I’m lifting my head up long enough to repost.  Because this gal is one of my chosen patron saints.  Thanks for understanding.


I do it.

I pray the rosary, every day.

  • It’s a breath
  • a balm,
  • a comfort,
  • a fixture,
  • an exercise,
  • a respite,
  • a gift,
  • a present,
  • a journey,
  • an attachment tool,
  • a joy,
  • a mediation,
  • a love,
  • an exhale.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
I think, sometimes, people who get all worked up about the rosary forget that we are ASKING FOR PRAYERS, not worshipping.  Just like we ask each other, our friends, our pastors, the clerk at the market….. And they forget that Mary prayed too.  Better than anyone else, ever.  And still does.  For us.  And she’s the  mom.  Christ’s mom! And he’s the perfect son.  And what does a perfect son do? He listens to his mother!  And if he knows better, and can’t do what is asked, he gently explains….. So, I’m just saying, those prayers are worth much.  And regardless of that factor, the rosary is a meditative time that makes any day better and deeper..and so too, me.
Happy Feast Day!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Little Big Love, Redux

It’s the feast of the Little Flower: St. Therese of Lisieux!

Which means it’s also my Marta’s feast day: Marta Therese (get the connection?).

St Therese is one of the fav’s at our house, you all know that.  I’ve written about her many times, and posted multiple novenas to her here on blog.  But whether you want to talk about her being a Doctor of the Church; known for her solid writing/teaching and doctrinal insight, or whether you want to talk about her humble “Little Way”……St Therese is about Love.

And wadda ya know…so is our Faith. So is God.  So, should be, myself.

And I kinda always thought we added “Therese” to our Marta’s name because we prayed novena’s to this saint on Marta’s behalf.  We hit St. Therese up for many prayers to bring our girl home and get her healthy.  St. Therese had TB too.  St. Therese wasn’t highly regarded among the other nuns in her convent.  She was thought to be slow or dim, she was often overlooked, she was young, she was small.

She was one of God’s “little ones.”
And so is our Marta, to be sure…one of God’s “little ones.”
If I know anything, I know that.

But really….
I am learning, every single blooming day, that I think we were compelled to add “Therese” to Marta’s name also because this saint teaches us how to love.
In the little things.
Which of course, means that they are the very biggest things.
Because this saint struggled all her life to die to her self and her pride and her desires so she could love Jesus better.

And she ultimately was given the grace of real understanding of the biggest simplest secret: that Love was waiting for her.  She didn’t have to scale great heights, or go on far missions, or accomplish amazing feats to prove her love.  All she had to do was lift up her arms(heart) and open herself to Love.  And, um, do it.  Love.  Love in the little things.  Every day.  The next thing, right in front of her.  Do the chore before her without complaint.  Smile at the irritating Sister and bite her tongue.  Not correct the error of someone being catty, but let it roll off her back.
It wasn’t easy for her, she didn’t possess any “saintly” or superhuman patience:

“I understood how easy it is to become all wrapped up in self, forgetting entirely the sublime goal of one’s calling.

Rather she figured out that:

“…perfection consists in doing God’s will, in being what he wills us to be.”


We can do no good when we seek our self.”

And yeah, it sounds so simple.  Like stupid simple, right?

Well, yup, it does.  So why do I fail and kick and fuss and gripe against it every blooming day?
Because it’s the hardest most profound thing we can do, any day, any moment.
And yet, also the most sublime and simplest.

To bring this ramble back around…and so it is with  my Marta Therese.
She too, teaches me how to love. Really.
Really love.
Because it can be so hard with her.  Because she is small and suffers the after-effects of the TB that ravaged her. Because it’s still sometimes strange and it’s still often hard and it’s sometimes ridiculously complicated. Because I am slow and am ridiculously complicated and strange. Because she has delays and it makes things very slow and often limited and sometimes strange.

But oh, I know, she is aptly named.
She is one of the small ones.
And she loves, to the best of her ability.
And I am called to love her.
And sometimes that is simply an act of will.
And sometimes it is with a tired fuss.
And sometimes it is with a stabbing intake of breath, glimpsing her for a moment as God does.
He sent me one of his special ones, to give me remedial lessons.
Because I too am slow.
And need so  much to learn to truly really love.
The little way.  
It’s so big.  

So today we celebrate, I am thinking upon, St. Therese of Lisieux, and her intentions:

 “I ask Jesus to draw me into the flames of his love, to unite me so closely to him that he live and act in me.
And I am asking her for her prayers, for our Marti Therese, my family,  and for me.

So that I can lift up my arms and  heart, and love better, more truly, all those littles ones given to me…..eight of them.

See, remedial lessons, lifelong….me.
And so I can say, “Thank you, here I am Love, lift me up.”

**Disclaimer: I posted this last  year.  It remains true and I feel the same, today. Hence, it’s busy, I am reposting.**

St Vincent de Paul: for the orphans…..

..and the widows and the poor. This saint had the big heart.  The heart that, maybe, darn near broke from compassion.  The heart that put compassion first foremost and above all.  So, for all you adoptive families and mission going gals out there – he’s your man.  Heck, for all you guilt ridden, distracted, interrupted moms out there (ok, me…), he’s a great saint to consider hitting up for prayer.  He gets it. And, it’s his feast day today!

I also gotta wonder if he wasn’t one with a sense of humor, another joyful saint.  I mean, look at that face. All the paintings and images I’ve ever seen of him show that smile and a little spark in his eyes.  Love that.  But, I digress.

Anyhow, he’s French, from the late 1500’s.  No easy time that.  But, enough, to distill what he was about, I can do no better than to excerpt one of his letters (from this morning’s Office of Readings):

“It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible.  If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind.  Offer the deed to God as your prayer.  Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of god’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out.  So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule.”  {From St. Vincent de Paul’s epistle 2546: Correspondance, entretiens, documents, Paris 1922-25, 7} 

Now, c’mon moms, does that not describe your every waking moment days in a nutshell? I think so!  It does mine.  What? I’m not surrounded by the poor? Well, not in the common sense of the term, no.  However, the poor are the little among us too.  They are the ones who need help, the ones who have no voice or a very tiny small one, the ones who might get overlooked. The poor get dismissed, either because they are the classic newspaper image of poor, impoverished and not just outside our door; or because they are children, our children even, and we forget their needs are so mighty as well.  So,  yeah, they count too.  Overwhelming? Poor ALL around us?? Well, yeah.  But, happily, we get props for trying to connect and make a difference, one glass of juice at a time, one band-aid at a time, one ear to listen, to serve, at a time.  I believe it.  The trick for me is remembering to DO it.  Again.  And again.  And again…well, you get the idea.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us!

About Those Beads….

Oh boy, what beads? I love beads! Always have!

I want to talk about the most special set of beads I know or have seen, ever.

These beads are beads from my husband, made for and given to his son.  These beads, they are special ones indeed.

Yup, you guessed it, this post is another in my series on my son’s entry into religious life.  As you all surely know, my Chris is now living this year as a Novice with the Dominican Eastern Province of St. Joseph.  He now goes by the name of Brother Peter Joseph – a whole ‘nother post coming on that one.  {I need to get a sidebar for my posts that are in the ‘mini-series mode’…it would make my life a bit simpler, at the very least. Hmm, site maintenance on my to-do list…}  There is still so much to talk about with this new step in my son’s life.  So much change and so much adjusting going on, for him, for us, for the family as a whole.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s almost all good.  But it’s, well, it’s a lot of adjusting and transition too.

Anyhow, THIS post, this post is about those beads.

When Chris was getting ready to go to the Novitiate, he was given a list of things to bring. (I’ve decided to use Chris when talking about prenovitiate time and Bro Peter Joseph when talking about the time after he took his new name…keeps my head from spinning.  Hope this helps you keep up too.)    It was a VERY short list.  It was the basics, really, because that’s all he really needs. Heck, it’s all any of us really need, right? Right.  But, it was the usual stuff: a set of work clothes and exercise clothes, underwear, socks, tennis shoes, black shoes, limited personal toiletries, a breviary, bible, etc.  Then, there were two “habit specific” items: a 1.5 -2″ black belt and a 15 decade rosary.  That’s it.  That was the list of must bring items, with any additional items strongly discouraged.  Vow of poverty, simple life, and all… These list items were things he already possessed, except the belt (oddly enough) and the rosary.  The belt was an easy get, of course.  The rosary..well, it could have been an easy get.  A quick drive down to St Mary’s bookstore, where they have a lovely selection of rosaries of all types and stripes….

But, in thinking of it, this rosary was kind of special.  It needed, ideally, to be one that can last.  Stand the test of time flying and fingers praying.  Stand the test of wearing, day in and day out, through the bumps and knocks of any given task, however mundane: dishes, serving, laundry, singing, praying, studying, and so on. So this rosary needed to be durable, but also have a good feel.  Not flashy, but not cheap and breakable and something to worry over.   No surprise then, that Tom, Coffedoc, the dad…he had the idea to make one.

Now, permit me an aside: we parents were keenly feeling this move approaching.  But you already know that.  And, as parents are wont to do, world over, we wanted to send something with our boy/young man/beloved son.  I had even made him a small painting of St. Dominic, in case he could bring such a thing for his room.   Chris said he couldn’t take it with him.  Ouch.  But. Ok.  We couldn’t give him money – vow of poverty and all.  We couldn’t give him lovely THINGS – vow. poverty. simplicity.  No  cashmere socks, ha! No fancy watch.  We couldn’t give him electronics – vow. poverty. simplicity.  You get the idea.  I know, I know, it was desperation of the departure taking it’s toll. Foolishly or not, we had the very strong urge to give him a part of ourselves…somehow.    Even though of course, he was and IS a part of ourselves, built in, and that travels with him no matter where he goes.  Still.  The urge was there.  Thus, when Tom hit on the idea to make the rosary, Chris kindly said, ok.  It was a kindness, he was unsure if it was a good idea or if there was time.  But he knew, we all knew, that if it could be done in time, it would be.  So he said, “Ok, Dad, that’d be great.”

Thus began a kind of lovely intense time leading up to the departure for the novitiate.  Chris and Tom spent a lot of time together…looking for the crucifix, selecting the right one.  Finding a crucifix prayed over by another Dominican, a sister from years ago, worn just right and with the heft of time and prayer.  Simple, lovely.  They pondered what made a good feel to a rosary, the materials used to string it: wire, links, string…what would be best, lasting, have a good feel.  What size beads, what material, what heft, what feel?  It sounds like a lot of fussing, but it wasn’t fussing, it was a joint project and it was time together, talking, evaluating, hanging out.   Chris didn’t want it too precious, needed to pull back his father’s natural urge to find the most amazing special coolest ever parts of this or that….remind dad again of the simple life he is thinking of, being possibly called to.  Nudge, pull, push…listen, understand.  Both of them.

Finally, the parts were in.  All materials needed to be and ended up the simplest, not expensive, but strong.  The crucifix and centerpiece found and arrived, agreed that they were “just right.”  The beads arrived, wooden black beads, just right.  The cord to string it all, finally, located and brought home (harder than it would seem, that one).  The length determined, adjusted, fixed.  The knots practiced, tried, adjusted.  Different knots for between the beads, then the decades. Special knots for the crucifix and the centerpiece; complicated beautiful and secure.  Thus, finally, the actual making of this special rosary could begin.  This sweet dad, he stayed up into the wee hours many nights, he knotted and he pulled and measured and tested, knotted, reknotted, redid it to perfection.  Almost.  Tom would point out, here, “No, not perfect.”

But it was perfect. It IS perfect.  The entire process was pure gift of himself.  To his son.  It makes me cry to type it, it means so much to each of them, but so too, to me.  The hours put it, a prayer over each bead, each knot, for his boy.  Each time our son, now Brother Peter Joseph, prays that rosary (which is daily) his fingers slip across the same beads and knots that his father too held in prayer and love.  He carries that, all that, tied to his belt with him, at all times.  That very rosary stays hooked on his belt and habit.

Thus, my son, carries a huge piece of his father’s heart and love with him, always.

And  yes, of course, he does anyhow.  With or without that particular rosary.  We know that. He knows that.  But, those beads.  Those deep brown black beads…. They are a tangible touchable reminder, for him and for us…that we are linked through prayer and beyond time.  That particular rosary – I can say because I only watched the whole deal, I have no personal glory here – it is stunning.  It is simple.  It is beautiful.  Not only because my husband can tie knots like nobody’s business, not only because he is a master craftsman.  But because that rosary is the tangible embodiment of a father’s deepest love and prayers for his son and entrustment to our Blessed Mother through those seemingly simple brown beads.

Now, Brother Peter Joseph, receiving the habit and with it, the beads

So, yeah, it’s about the beads…in so many ways, they are kinda special.

For Every Mom; Lady of Sorrows

drawing by Kate Kollwitz, 1903
Today is the day we remember Our Lady of Sorrows.
Oh, there is so much to this one…
As a mom, this resonates with me.
Ok, maybe as an older mom it resonates.
As a mom of sons who’ve gone to college, who has just sobbed goodbye to them…
as a mom who has given her son back to God, as he discerns the call to religious life…
as a mom of kids who come from hard places and  have endured hardship and trauma…
as a mom who has held other mom’s babies and children across the world in dark hot smelly orphanages, waving flies off their face as I feel their damp bottoms but also their arms clinging to my neck, or see them lying limp in my arms just gazing out – disconnected…
as a mom of kids who have struggled with different needs, some of them very hard and/or intense…
as a mom of kids who’ve gone through life-threatening events and as a mom who has sat vigil bedside in the PICU….
gosh as a mom who has lain awake countless nights worrying over  her kids…
over things big or small….
As a friend to moms who have lost children…
as a friend to moms who’s kids have been in the PICU, or hospital too….
as a friend to moms who have had kids go through the hardest scariest time in their lives and/or those of their parents…
goodness, as a mom who WATCHES THE NEWS, for pity’s sake…
….this memorial is for me.  A mom.  Any Mom.  This memorial is for us.
Because this Blessed Mother, she is us. 
She is every mom.
She is the mom giving  her portion of food for her hungry child.
She is the mom sitting bedside by her sick child.
She is the mom who weeps sending her child off, to work, to college, to a new life in a new country.
She is the mom who wishes she could hurt so her child doesn’t have to.
She is the mom who carries them, bodily, but also in mind and heart….all day, every day, all night, every night.
She is the mama.
She is us.
She gets it.
And she helps us carry it all….all those things that no one but a mom can fathom, truly…well, she does.
As I wept and wept a few weeks (the dropoff)  ago, worried over my son, him moving out and having to say goodbye to him in a new place that didn’t feel like home, at all, to him or to me…my other son said this: “Our Lady of Sorrows mom….the litany, it will help.“  I nodded.  It was all I could do.
So…with that, I give you this, it helped me then, and it is a reminder that she is not just the remote Mother of God.
She is everywoman.
Every mom.  Us.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, .
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us
Mother of the Crucified, pray for us
Sorrowful Mother, pray for us
Mournful Mother, pray for us
Sighing Mother, pray for us
Afflicted Mother, pray for us
Foresaken Mother, pray for us
Desolate Mother, pray for us
Mother most sad, pray for us
Mother set around with anguish, pray for us
Mother overwhelmed by grief, pray for us
Mother transfixed by a sword, pray for us
Mother crucified in thy heart, pray for us
Mother bereaved of thy Son, pray for us
Sighing Dove, pray for us
Mother of Dolors, pray for us
Fount of tears, pray for us
Sea of bitterness, pray for us
Field of tribulation, pray for us
Mass of suffering, pray for us
Mirror of patience, pray for us
Rock of constancy, pray for us
Remedy in perplexity, pray for us
Joy of the afflicted, pray for us
Ark of the desolate, pray for us
Refuge of the abandoned,pray for us
Shiled of the oppressed, pray for us
Conqueror of the incredulous, pray for us
Solace of the wretched, pray for us
Medicine of the sick, pray for us
Help of the faint, pray for us
Strength of the weak, pray for us
Protectress of those who fight, pray for us
Haven of the shipwrecked, pray for us
Calmer of tempests, pray for us
Companion of the sorrowful, pray for us
Retreat of those who groan, pray for us
Terror of the treacherous, pray for us
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs, pray for us
Treasure of the Faithful, pray for us
Light of Confessors, pray for us
Pearl of Virgins, pray for us
Comfort of Widows, pray for us
Joy of all Saints, pray for us
Queen of thy Servants,pray for us
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled, pray for us

Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin, That we may be made worthy
of the promises of Christ.

**Full disclosure:  I wrote this last year.  But I feel just the same…so, I’m reposting. 

Patron for the Moms

It’s the Feast of St. Monica!

Painting of St. Monica, by John Nava

Monica is special in so many ways….and especially special to me.  She hails from North Africa, so many forget that about her and Augustine..But I love her because she prayed without ceasing for her son (and her husband). I mean, it’s fairly widely agreed that her fervent prayers, and persevering ones, were effective in the conversion of her wild boy, Augustine.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  To fully understand why she is such a role model for me (and moms in general)…read on….

Painting of St. Monica, by Janet McKenzie
Monica was from North Africa, and from a culture where women didn’t always have the amount of power that we enjoy today (ok that was worldwide, but still…to set hte stage here…).  She was married to a tough husband and had a mother in law who hated her.  Not easy.  Even so, she weathered her Mother in laws barbs and she prayed for the conversion of husband….which he did, on  his deathbed.  Then there was her son.  You mom’s of teens, listen up:  Augustine was a son that would give any mom fits!  In our era raising him would mean many sleepless nights and teary phone calls with girlfriends. I suspect she had many a night awake fretting over her boy, and possibly many a tsking talk with her girlfriends as they worked.  Maybe she had to be quiet and weather the gossip about him…not easy…but OH so much fodder for it!  Her son was wild and ignored her pleas, getting into all sorts of revelry; ok, trouble…the kind of trouble we moms go gray over (can read more about him tomorrow on his feast day!).

But Monica persevered, because this was her son, she knew the truth and that he was Good (capital G good) and she had the faith that her prayers would be answered according to God’s will….sooner or later. Well, it was something like 17 years later, but it happened. Not only did Augustine turn his life around and step back onto more solid ground, but he converted to the faith and was ordained by St. Ambrose himself. So, not only were her prayers answered, they were abundantly answered!  How cool is that??

I am just pretty darn sure that ol Augie’s conversion (as he might have been called in his party days) was in large part due to the faithful lasting sure prayers of his mom, as well as her prayerful example and steadfast love, no matter what. See that painting, just above?  It’s St. Monica praying for St. Augustine…see that intensity, this mom means business!  And no matter what trouble he got into, Monica didn’t shun him. She might well have corrected him, being his mom and all (whether or not he listened)…..….but she never stopped loving him.

And that is what will turn even the hardest furthest of hearts back to the truth of Real Love. So I love St Monica, and she reminds me to never give up. Ever. We mom’s can’t give up…it’s one of the things that keeps the world spinning correctly on it’s axis.  I know it.

Happy feast day, moms.
St. Monica, pray for us!

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Name Edition

Introducing, Brother Peter Joseph!

Yeah, they get new religious names.

A post on that very big deal, later.  For now, go see A GREAT SHORT SLIDE SHOW of the Vestition and  his new brothers…..

And, as always, for more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Leaving all things behind….Updated. With pics

Today is the feast of St. Dominic, an amazing saint and one we are getting to know much better around here.  For a prior post of mine on his feast day, go here.

St. Dominic in Prayer, by El Greco

As today is St Dominic’s feast day, that means this day is one of great import in our family and for my eldest son.  My son has just entered the novitiate of the Dominican Order (the Eastern Province of St. Joseph).  Today is the day of Vestition.  Which means, today is the day my son gets his habit (those white and black robes) and very likely, a new, religious, name.  Today is the day that he really begins.

It’s a big day.  We feel it.

To go and see what I’m talking about, you can go here to see last years Vestition…I saw it last  year and it made me cry.  I’m not watching it today, because it will make me cry all the more, I already puddled up during the Morning Office and prayers.  I’ll save those watching tears for any video that might come of the Vestition for MY son. Those are enough for me, for this.  And while it all sounds like I’m so torn up and sad; I’m not.  Not really.  I’m remarkably peaceful about it all…..but…..I surely do feel the moment of this day.  I feel the weight of it.  Heck, I feel even now that connection to my son and I wonder if he’s feeling nervous or edge or just excited for it all?

But today is here, and he begins.  He literally lays down his life from before, to take up a new one.  Thus, the habit, a clothing of a new man.  And he steps up and forward into a new life, and living it to discern if he is called to it ALL.  That’s what this is for: to live it fully and completely, in order to grow into it, or find out that it is not fully, finally, for him.  Either way, it is a huge transition.  For him.  For us.  And hopefully it is a life that will be covered in joy, as is the  mark of all Dominican’s I’ve ever met.

Today, it begins.

UPDATE: That’s my boy, oh dear, my grown son…

This is my first glimpse, it just came through email…and yes,

it made me burst into tears…of joy and..i don’t know…took my breath away.  wow. (And no, it’s not a requirement that he shaves and buzzes his head. That’s just him. Yeh I was surprised too. That’s my son!)  

St. Dominic, pray for us.  St. Dominic, pray for my son.  Happy Feast Day, everyone!

>How to love much

>One of the great examples we have of how to love much is St. Mary Magdalene.
Yup, that’s right, this woman, reviled as an adulteress and worse, shunned even in Jesus’ time, loved with all she  had.
Wish I could say the same.

She was a beauty, and she knew it and used it…but when she met Jesus, she recognized the Christ.  She came to him, weeping, and washed his feet with her long gorgeous hair.  And what did Jesus say to her? He said, “Her sins are forgiven because she has loved  much.” Whoa.  Loved much.  Meaning, loved Him much.  Because only in loving him can we even begin to love anyone else.  If we don’t love him first, we will only love ourselves and then we can’t love anyone at all.  But she saw him and her heart new, knew she was called right back to him, him who made her.  And she came to him and wept, abject at the hurt she knew she had caused him by her separation.  And he forgave her, he took her love right back.

How much hope does that give rotten ol’ selfish me?
Well…a lot.

St Mary Magdalene went on to be one of the ones left at his crucifixion, one of the ones who stayed with his mom Mary.  She was faithful, her love didn’t fail.  She was the one to see him first at the tomb; imagine her amazed joy after such grief and hurt.  But this is the key, once she knew him – her love didn’t fail.

Wow.  Her love didn’t fail.
She didn’t go back to loving her beautiful self.
She ignored the certain gossip and whispering about her and her reputation and focused on the truth of real love that she had found.
She didn’t say, “Now what about me?”
She did the next thing: loved him.
And then she did the next thing: loved him.
And then the next:… him.
See the pattern?
Me too.
And still I stumble and go back to loving me first, not him and thus not others.  Not enough.
So today, I rejoice for the example of St Mary Magdalene, one of the most hopeful of our saints.  And I ask for  her prayers, to help me love him (and thus others) better, truer, and more.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

Feast of Corpus Christi!

This is a very important feast in Christendom and our Catholic church.  It’s a beautiful feast and last year we had the privilege of being in Orvietto for the famous Eucharistic Procession there at the Cathedral.  Truly a once in a lifetime experience!  This video is the classic chant for this feast, written by St. Thomas Aquinas, himself and simply uplifting and beautiful.

Enjoy while you scan the pics from Orvietto below…it’s almost like being there!

Orvietto Cathedral

And, just because this is another one of those “mysteries” that is all but impossible to wrap  your mind around; it’s to be accepted and embraced by faith with heart and soul.  You kind of open up the heart and eyes of your soul and then this song and this feast floods in.

I totally believe it, even as I will never intellectually understand it fully.  But that doesn’t matter……It’s all grace.  And so very very good.

Claiming my boy

This came up on my facebook feed this morning…..

Announcing the 2011 Novitiate Class for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph

Christopher –  Tennessee, 21 years old, studied at Notre Dame
Though born in southern California, I was raised in a small Tennessee town, not far from Nashville. I am the oldest of eight children, the youngest five of whom are adopted (two of them from Ethiopia).
I was raised Catholic, but it wasn’t until I was in middle school that fully practicing our Faith started to become important to my family and me. I became an altar server, and in eighth grade I had my first religion classes and went on my first retreat. It was around that time that I began to have sincere thoughts about becoming a priest, but in high school those thoughts were pushed to the back of my mind, later to be more or less dismissed. My faith remained important to me though, as I involved myself heavily in diocese-wide retreats and youth programs. After high school, I went to the University of Notre Dame, and in May 2011 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology and Piano Performance.
I spent the spring semester of my junior year of college studying in Rome at the Dominican-run Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (“the Angelicum”). Priesthood and religious life were still only at the back of my mind when I was in Rome, but as the semester progressed, the idea that God might be calling me to the priesthood slowly began to fight back to the forefront …

Now, that’ll wake up a mom; to see her son’s face and bio popping up on a social network feed.  And as I’m working through this process – in my head and heart and blog – toward the Novitiate, this is the formal announcement of their new Novice Class for this coming year.

In a public way, this is the Dominican Order, claiming my son.  Or, precisely, stating their intent to claim.  This coming year will be a year of final discernment on both sides of the equation.  My son will “live the life” and decide if God is truly calling him to a life of prayer and study and service; while the Order will decide, prayerfully, if they think he’s got the chops for it.  Maybe his toe tapping and drumming will become annoying, I don’t know.  Kidding…. But it’s a big year all around, for all of them.

Go see, it also shows a few of his new brothers to be: the whole Novitiate Class that will enter with him in July.  These men, younger and older, will help each other in prayer and company and studying, through the joyous, profound moments, the goofy, and through the tougher times of uncertainty, and homesick for the life left behind.  Big stuff indeed.  I pray daily for all of these  young men and their families.  We welcome your prayers too if you think of it.

Applying to the Dominicans of the St. Joseph Province

{Note; the Aspirant time frame was about 6 -8 weeks.  Again, these posts are post-dated, if you will.  The timing is not, currently, real time.  I wrote them earlier and only publish with Chris’ permission}

So. Now, my son is an Applicant.

This pleases me if only because now I can pronounce it properly.  This is a comfort.  Also, it’s easier to explain or address in a concise manner.  So when friends ask about him, wondering about his post graduation plans, I can say, “Well, he’s applying to the Eastern Provence of St Joseph, the Dominicans.” And even though that it is something of a mouthful its much more direct than trying to explain and pronounce what an aspirant is.  So, because these posts are really about our parental side of this process…this is a step forward in more ways than one.

Now of course, he has a boatload of work to do.  Not that he didn’t already have a boatload of work to do, what with extra class units, senior piano recitals for one of his his majors, work as an RA, being social and all…..and oh, the continuing discernment to the priesthood…now he has an a “formidable” application to undertake.  We never said he wasn’t an overachiever.  This will be quite the juggling act.  Good practice, the discipline it will take to manage it all.  Anyhow, so, now he has a list to work on.  It’s a lengthy list, but a tangible list, rather than only the more internal work that he’s been doing for this process.

I think that this concrete, numbered, tangibility is helpful.  Then again, i am totally task oriented so maybe that’s just me.  But for me, this next step, this new title to the process kind of releases me from some of the fretting about all this.  Because even though this whole process isn’t about us, it is, tangentially.  There is an underlying sense of import and looming change for us, the parents and family .

As  I type this, now, he has just finished the rigors and requirements of the application. He had to write either a shortish narrative of his life to date, or answer a number of personal exploratory sort of questions. This was probably the most challenging part of the application for my son.  Having a tendency toward procrastination, typically he put it off until this clanging deadline and personal introspection demanded the attention of his numbered hours.  My guess is that he completed it in the standard fashion of most applicants; both fussing over it a bit and then barreling through it to get it off the to do list.

After that he had to request five letters of recommendation from various persons in his life; happily they all agreed to the chore.  On of those letters had to be from one of us, his parents.  He asked his father.  Thank goodness for that, as just reading his father’s letter made me cry; I couldn’t have done it so well.  It was a most excellent letter.  No surprise that, the quality or the tears I suppose. Lastly, but certainly not least, he had to run the gauntlet of full bodily examination: physicals of every sort.  He had his eyes checked, his teeth, his body with the big general physical and blood work.  He had his mind and psychic well being checked too; they don’t need to cope with any burdensome neuroses, the garden variety ones are certainly enough for each of us, eh?

Certificates of sacramental preparations, birth certificates as well as baptism and confirmation were requested.  I happily gave him a scare when I mentioned finding and sending the perfect Baptism pics: where he looked both cute AND holy, even at five months old.  No, I didn’t send the pics but it was awfully fun to tease him that I did. It’s good to keep your kids on edge, just a bit, I think.   A mom has to have some fun with this process right?  Right.

The last official part of the application process and the most weighty perhaps, other than the ongoing discerning, was the official “Vocations Counsel” interviews.  Chris had to fly to D.C., and after his psych evaluation, have a few interviews with some of the higher ups Dominicans of the order.  I asked him, after, if he was nervous.  He said, “A little, but they were very nice.  One was kind of hard in a way, but it was good.” Listening to him after the trip, between flights to come home, made me grin.  The excitement in his voice was, again, like a young man, excited about a new adventure.

And now, we wait.  His application has been approved by the vocations counsel ( even without the baptism pictures, imagine!) and has been sent to the Prior Provincial for the final stamp. Kinda like sending the bill to the president; he can approve or veto it,  final answer.  I’ve asked him if he is nervous for the outcome.  “Not really” he says.  Funny, me neither.  Yeah, I think we all know what that outcome is going to be.  Gods will.  Thankfully, the peace of that is settling in.

For today.  Today my son is, still, an applicant.  Tomorrow, in the next few weeks, we will see if his status changes.  Prayerfully, we wait.

Girl Feast: the Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation!

I saw this in the Uffizi, one of my fav's

That means that today we celebrate and remember when Mary went to her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with the soon to be born John the Baptist. I love this image, I love this whole concept.  It’s one of my favorite mysteries of the rosary….and I’ve wondered why it speaks to me so.  But I think, really, it’s that whole connection thing, once again.

The connections that we make, especially we women, are so important.  They mean everything, in a way.  It took me a long time to get there, way past the awkward high school years and the striving driven, boyfriend focused, college years.  But as I’ve grown older and into the woman I am now in middle age and hopefully was meant to be (mostly), I have grown also into some of the richest relationships: friendships with women.  My girl friends are such a support; even the virtual ones through email, phones, and blogging…the support gained and given through these friendships with other women give me such strength.  They have pulled me out of deepest indigo blues, they have encouraged me forward in burnout and despair, they have brainstormed with me in mom dilemmas, they have brightened days with a good laugh.  They have called me out from my selfishness, they have told me when the swimsuit is just too tired and for pity’s sake go buy a new one.  They have listened to me vent and cry and rage and brag; saved my marriage a few times and my child’s backside as well.  They are generous, genious, kind, caring, prayerful gals…..and I hope and pray I have returned the favor more than once and can continue to.  In person, blog, email or phone, it all counts.

I think that is why I love this feast so.  Mary did it first.  She found out she was with child, and in her first trimester she journeyed to her cousin.  Now, we all know what that first trimester is like: such exhaustion, illness, hunger, sleepy fatigue. And Mary set out on a long journey to be with her dear friend, her cousin.  She didn’t get to hop in her comfy BMW, she had to walk or use the donkey.  I would’a griped about traveling in my comfy Honda (oh, right I think I did, way back when I was in first trimester’s.  oops).  But she went.  She went to help, not to get her own comfort, but to help.  Because Elizabeth was older and was in the end (third trimester?) of her pregnancy.  We all know what that’s like too: exhausted, feeling big as a whale, swollen, uncomfortable, maybe a tad irritable, just…done.  So, Mary went to help.  And they embraced when they met, like friends/family who miss each other do.  And Elizabeth blurted out “Who am I that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”  She didn’t say, “Mary! Wow, what a surprise, what are you doing here?” and start fretting about if she had enough kefir or whatever to add to lunch or if the house was clean.  No, she instantly felt the baby flip around and she had those words out, I suspect, before she even really understood them, fully.  That’s how it works, I think. It’s all grace.  This feast is all about the grace and we see it in that painting, up there, one of my favorites.

Our friendships, the support we women give each other is unlike anything else.  And it is all grace. It really is, when it’s good.  We can  undermine each other like nobody’s business if we choose.  But when we choose to give, it’s like nothing else….except, like Mary..and Elizabeth.  And that, just that, is why I love this feast day.  It’s a feast about connections and grace and giving.  It’s a girl feast.  Because we rock and we do this better than anyone; when we open ourselves to this grace. Mary and Elizabeth did, so long ago.  They show us the way, even now.

>Praying for Bishop

>Today is a day of much import:
It’s the anniversary of 9/11, of course.
It’s Ethiopian New Year: Melkem Addis Amet!
It’s game day for the Irish.

Most of all however, for us here in the coffeehouse, today is a day of prayer for our dear Bishop who is recovering from heart surgery.
He needs our prayers and I ask, if you have a moment and the inclination, to pray for this holy and dear good man.
He is one of the good guys.
He is my spiritual father…..our family’s spiritual father and we love him.
Please pray for the swift and full recovery of our Bishop, David Choby.

Praying for Bishop…….

>Holy Cake!


It’s the feast of the Nativity of Mary! 

Today is the day we celebrate and remember the nativity of our Blessed Mother, Mary. The birth of the Theotokos, Mother of God. I know some have questions or issues with this whole concept…but I am all about loving our Blessed Mother, and all about celebrating birthdays, so I can run with it! Go here for a quick bit on it as well.

I am so grateful for her and for her birthday that we will celebrate with flowers for her and maybe even a yummy dessert….Because living the liturgical year is fun and cool and gives much needed texture, rhythm, and depth to the warp and woof of our lives.

And here is a lovely prayer for the day:  from the Liturgy of the Hours: 

Father of Mercy, give your people help and strength from heaven.
The birth of the Virgin Mary’s son
was the dawn of our salvation.
May this celebration of her birthday
bring us closer to lasting peace.
Grant this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

— the Liturgy of the Hours

Birth of Virgin Mary to St. Anne in Santa Maria Novella, Florence.  By Domenico Ghirlandio

So, this is a bit rambly…but well, think of your Mother today…your Blessed Mother and maybe say a prayer of thanksgiving for her. Because like all of us moms, she loves us even when we don’t love her nearly well enough back….and, yes, in case you’re wondering, we will have cake!

Happy Birthday Mary!

“Nativitas tua genitrix virgo gaudium annunziavit universo mundo”

(Thy birth, O Virgin and Mother of God, brings joy to all the world).

>It’s never too late: Augustine


Its the feast day of St. Augustine!
Ok, now this saint, from north Africa, {born in Tagaste, in Africa, in 354} is one of the biggies: a doctor of the church of course and one of the great writers throughout Church history. I like him for so many reasons, not the least of which is his connection with his mom and her devoted prayers for her son. You know, I will always have a soft spot for a mom and son….

His teachings are noted throughout Christendom for their lasting influence and, simply put, their beauty. Perhaps it was his years of living a life that was wild, utterly hedonistic, and dipped into all sorts of heresy and convoluted ideas of god…..but when he returned to the Faith, he did so in a big way, using his brilliant mind to convey the beauty of Truth to generations to come.

Indeed, this is the antiphon from evening prayer tonight:
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, 
late have I loved you.  
You called, you shouted and you shattered my deafness.”

Late have I loved you… Indeed. And perhaps, that is part of his appeal to so many, so many of us (ok, me), have really felt that, lived that. Late, have I loved You. I missed so much, for so long. The “band width” of my life was so slim, and I didn’t even know it. But I was fooled by the hedonistic life I lived into thinking it was so wide. I was arrogant enough to think I knew it all. Only, later, later when I finally “let go” of my grip on that did I finally come to realize how small it all was.

And then St. Augustine, once more, came through for me with one of his most famous prayers:

You have made us for yourself, oh God. 
And our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.” 

Ah. I know, I’m paraphrasing that quote, but that’s how it sticks in my head and heart. And that about sums it all up: St. Augustine, life in general, me in particular.

So, it’s really never too late to wake up to love.  
Thank goodness!

Happy feast day!
St. Augustine, pray for us!
{Again, a melded post…last year, busy time now, but new prayers and comments.}

>Mom Feast


Feast of St. Monica

Painting of St. Monica, by John Nava

Today is the feast of St. Monica!
It’s a special feast day for us moms, because she is a special patron of mothers…especially the moms who have persevere in prayer and try to convert their worries and fretting and even fears for their kids into something more productive: prayer.
Here is one of the premier examples of patience, especially for us moms.
Really, I should unofficially consider her a patron, because here is a mom who showed such patience and perseverance in prayer…and these are some of the traits (especially that whole patience thing) that I severely lack.

Painting of St. Monica, by Janet McKenzie

St. Monica, a saint from north Africa, prayed for the conversion (successfully) of her husband and his mother. But, most famously, she prayed and prayed faithfully for the conversion of her wild, wayward son, Augustine.

Augustine was a son that would give any mom many sleepless nights and teary phone calls with girlfriends. And while Monica wasn’t of the phone call era, I suspect she had many a night awake fretting over her boy. He was wild and ignored her pleas, getting into all sorts of revelry; ok, even trouble…the kind of trouble we moms go gray over (can read more about him tomorrow on his feast day!).

But Monica persevered, because this was her son, she knew the truth and she had the faith that her prayers would be answered according to God’s will….sooner or later. Well, it was something like 17 years later, but it happened. Not only did Augustine turn his life around and step back onto more solid ground, but he converted to the faith and was ordained by St. Ambrose himself.

I like to think it is in no small part due to the faithful lasting sure prayers of his mom, as well as her prayerful example and steadfast love, no matter what. She didn’t shun him. She might well have corrected him, being his mom and all (whether or not he listened)….. {I know this is an old holy card image, but it makes me laugh.
It’s St. Monica praying for St. Augustine,
but that’s the same look my boys have when I’m giving them advice…
which is surely also a scene from the life of these two!}

….but she never stopped loving him. And that is what will turn even the hardest furthest of hearts back to the truth of Real Love. So I love St Monica, and she reminds me to never give up. Ever. We mom’s can’t give up…it’s one of the things that keeps the world spinning correctly on it’s axis.  I know it.

Antiphon from today’s morning prayer:
“You answered her prayer, O Lord, you did not disregard her tears 
which fell upon the earth wherever she prayed.”

Happy feast day, moms.
St. Monica, pray for us!
{Much of this reposted, not all, from last  year…it’s a busy time, but this feast day is not to be missed}.