Corpus Christie: mind blowing feast day

It’s the feast of Corpus Christi: the Body of Christ.
It’s one of the greatest Mysteries of the faith, capital “M” mystery again…one of those that boggle and baffle the mind. One of those you believe or you don’t. Period.
I do.

It’s the Eucharist. The body of Christ. It’s a gift, a sacrament, it’s utterly holy and sacred and, at the same time, the most intimate thing on earth.

I can’t do this justice of course. To read more about this, with historical support, go here.
To read a good piece on how to bring together your mind, heart and senses on this, go here.

All I know is that I like thinking about connections a lot. You know that. I like that whole connected relational brought together linked adopted bonded sense in (my) life. I see it so many places that it gives me chills if I stop to think about it. And that is what I find to the utmost, mindblowing, heart zinging way in the sacrament of Communion and the Eucharist: the most intimate connection and unity that can be. Ever – in this world. And I yearn for it and reach for it and I sink into it with relief and gratitude and wallowing comfort and thankfulness.
And I don’t understand it with my mind.
But my heart and soul know it’s more real than anything else.
John 6

*reposted from a few years ago. This doesn’t change for me, just keeps me sighing in awe and relief.*

Stations week 1

Once again, it’s time for the Stations of the Cross.

Every Friday in Lent I’m putting up the link to the Stations of the Cross.
It’s an uber Catholic thing….but then again not.
Anyone can meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and lent is the perfect time to do so. 
It is a rigorous walk, in prayer…and has it’s own hard beauty.
Take a look, read, pray if you are inclined.

This year I’m linking to Pope Benedict’s Stations, the meditations are great.  Go here for the prayers.

Painting by Michael O'Brien

And, for you techies out there, this app is a gorgeous thing, with beautiful paintings by Michael O’Brien.  Totally worth the download!

Well Then….

I had no idea.  But hey, I’ll take it!  See what I’m talking about, below, or here:

In a post last fall, Br. Ambrose wrote about how great it is to die as a Dominican.  Well, that extends to our parents as well. 

Each year, Mass is offered on Feb. 7 for the repose of the souls of our deceased mothers and fathers.  Each week, one of the Conventual Masses in each of our priories and houses around the world is offered for the deceased brothers, sisters, benefactors, familiars, and mothers and fathers of the friars for the same intention.  Moreover, each week five decades of the Rosary are also offered by every friar.  In other words, parents who give their children over to the Order then receive a gift back – a regular share in the Order’s prayers and supplications, each week and every year.

What a grace it is to die not only as a Dominican but also as a parent of a Dominican.

From the OP Vocations website, of course! Thanks Fr. Benedict!

See this?  Who knew?  I’ll take all the prayers I can get, now and beyond.

The idea that all those Dominicans are and will pray for me? For us old parents?  Boo-ya!  They must know, all too well, that we need it…..

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.

 

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 any mom

>

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 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 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 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 said, “She didn’t send her son to college!” (I know, I’m a selfish idiot)  He smiled and said “Yuh, she watched him be crucified.”  
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.  
Everymom.  Us.
 Litany of Our Lady Of Seven Sorrows 
By Pope Pius VII
Leader Response
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
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.
Shield 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.
Let us pray.

O God, in whose Passion,
According to the prophecy of Simeon,
A sword of grief pierced through
The most sweet soul
Of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary:
Grant that we, who celebrate
The memory of her Seven Sorrows,
May obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion,
Who lives and reigns world without end.
Amen.