Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Season Peevishness- 7 QuickTakes

Christ is Risen!...yes, not saying "Christ is risen!" is my first pet peeve...

1. Christ is still risen! We fasted for weeks- and Easter is only a day? Come on people! I know you are really tired from Holy Week (priest-husband has been ill since right after the doings on Sunday, as usual), but let's not fast more than we feast. Feast in your own way, but feast.

2. A spoken exultet!? We have all year to prepare for this most glorious of traditions in the Western-rite. If priest or deacon is unable, plan ahead and find a cantor who will do it justice. In the 'spirit of Vatican II,' help your priest with this if it was a disaster this year.

3. An off-key Alleluia sung by one person?! If the choir is going to Cancun during Holy Week and Easter, plan ahead. Make up a sign-up sheet. Perhaps some people don't want to make a year commitment to choir, but they would be able to sing during our high holy days. Also, it is probably good for the parish priest to rotate volunteer positions so that not one person 'owns' a certain activity- so parish life doesn't become "Mr Smith always puts up the Lenten desert scene. Mrs. Smith always arranges the flowers, etc."

4. No organ or trumpet? or for us Eastern-types- no cantor? Again, plan ahead (Christmas is coming up!)- and hire good musicians for big feasts. Put it in the budget. Statistically, churches have triple the numbers for Christmas and Easter- let's be faithful and pastoral and professional and maybe some of these people will come back.

5. A homily on the pagan origins of the Easter bunny? Come now, Father, is that really the best you can do? Leave the potentially irrelevant, fun stories to the bulletin and knock your homily out the park! Minister to the faithful and the twice-a-year-churchgoers alike. Might as well give the people something to really think and pray about. You have a vocation, not a job...so on to number 6...

6. Dear Father...please don't complain at the pulpit how tired you are. We know how tired you are because we are tired as well. We want a beautiful Liturgy, and you are the human who can gift us with it. Use your faithful lay people for appropriate work throughout the church to help you with the busy work, but so much of church life is simply up to you. Your faithful lay people are praying for you. We ask for a faithful and dignified priest who celebrates his vocation- not just does his job.

7. Easter egg hunts on Holy Thursday morning...and the like...it is really difficult cultivating the domestic church when society as a whole has no respect for tradition...my advice to myself is just keep trying, keep my head up and plan Easter parties for after Easter!




many more quick takes at conversiondiary.com

PrettyHappyFunnyReal & BRIGHT

Pretty
 from journey to the old country last summer- can you imagine American churches with icons painted on the outside?
Happy
 it's almost warm enough to swim!
Funny
 vegetables from the Great Fast...need veggies...too much meat...

Real


 prayers of supplication for a friend who has left the Catholic Church

and
Bright
Christ is risen! 
Christos Anesti! Christos Voskrese! Cristo ha resucitado! Al Maseeh Qam! Hristos a Inviat! Krisztus felt√°madt!Christos harjav i merelotz! Pikhirstof aftonf! Christus resurrexit!
 and yes- I am still having camera trouble...better luck next week (?)

In Search of Easter: Part Two

...continuing a guest post by the Western Rite Sister in the South (as opposed to the Eastern Rite Priest’s Wife in the West)

After a mere five hours of sleep (this is the standard amount of sleep for every parent in the U.S. preceding Christmas and Easter mornings), hubby and I both arose to light candles and welcome the most important morning of the year, commemorating the most important day of history! Dad brewed the morning joe while I searched the computer on youtube for some good time Alleluia tunes.  Keith Green’s Easter Song filled the kitchen, “Joy to the World, He is risen!  Alleluia!”  Sipping cream-infused java and praising the Risen Lord woke our sleepy heads upstairs.  What a beautiful family morning!  Chocolate, marshmallows, jelly beans and patience with younger siblings abounded. 

I searched for the  Alleluia Chorus on youtube, the perfect Easter song to singOn the computer screen, there appeared a random group of people chowing down in a food court in a mall somewhere.  Suddenly, the strains of Handel could be heard over the loudspeaker.  People noticed in mid-munch and then resumed eating.  A young woman seemingly on a cell phone stood up at her table and sang the first stanzas of “Alleluia, Alleluia”.  She was joined by a scarf-clad tenor across the court….it was clearly a set up.  A beautiful random act of kindness kinda thing put on by a marvelous choir posing as shoppers, workers and store owners.  It is what is known as a “flashmob.” One by one, even the innocuous bystanders joined in, and so did we.  It was truly inspiring.  Our family was filled with Easter joy as we changed into Sunday best, which had been flung wrinkled on the floor from the night before, and filed into our mega van.   

As we entered the church, the perfume of lilies greeted our noses.  AAH….the sensuality of Catholicism is like no other!  The pews were filling in with much welcomed guests….OK folks, you’ll wanna come back after this nuptial feast!  The organ began to bellow….here it comes, kids; belt ‘er out!  And then…. That was it.  Most choir members were out of town.  The minor chord Alleuia intoned by a single cantor.  Standard homily (and this pastor was also hitting the hay early, he’d had a long week too).  An off-key One Bread, One Body for Communion.  They must have run out of incense and holy water as well, as none were to be found.  We ended with a barely audible Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today. “This is like a funeral Mass,” commented my usually effervescent husband.   

We drove home past several churches, expelling crowds of beautifully adorned congregants beaming with joy….some roofs seemed to be bumped off their soffits from the choruses inside.  I started to miss my old Protestant days.  But no—we have the contrast of Lent, and an entire season of Easter…..  We kept our disappointment to ourselves, as chocolate bunnies and computer games seemed to satiate the souls of our youngAs long as they could get back to our Saturday Family Movie Night with Don Knotts, our kids knew that Lent was over.  But, how to help them remember that Easter had begun?  It can’t just be 'back to business,' we are a changed people!   

We would just have to fend for ourselves.  It is kind of like filling your own plastic eggs if Mom and Dad are just too tired to do it.  Maybe a few pastors don’t realize that they act like lazy parents who buy the prepackaged Walmart basket, never realizing that their parish family needs 'optional' traditions that elevate the Resurrection. Lent cleans me out, and Easter fills me up!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In Search of Easter: Part One

a guest post by the Western Rite Sister in the South (as opposed to the Eastern Rite Priest’s Wife in the West) 

It was a tough Lent.  Well over forty days of sacrifice riddled our family; one child only wrote in cursive, one gave up chocolate milk at school, others gave up any screen time game playing.  We attended daily Mass, knelt in the dark and prayed a decade of the rosary nightly, not a sweet made its way to our table and nary a Netflix movie flickered on the set.  Lent had invaded our domicile, and it was wonderful!  The bread dough crown shed its toothpick thorns and sat naked on the table come the Holy Triduum.  We were poised and ready to greet Our Blessed Lord on Easter. 

Our oldest sons spent hours preparing for the Liturgies of the Triduum during Holy Week.  As each Liturgy commenced, our anticipation grew as we readied ourselves for the Lord to rise.  Washing feet.  Instituting the Eucharist and Holy Orders. Interceding for the whole world, venerating the Cross.  Silence.  Sadness.  The tabernacle was barren.   

And then, the Easter fire was ignited.  The Pascal candle was lit, Christ our Light.  Our little candles were lit, Thanks be to God.  Gradually, the darkened womb of the church was illuminated by individual living flames, like stars in the inky sky.  With seven children, our pew blazed forth brightly—baptized souls illumining a dark worldAhhhh.  Quiet, beauty, mystery--and recalling the faithful throughout the ages that have gazed into those dancing flames.  Our sensus fidei recollections were abruptly interrupted by the flipping on of the artificial lights, eclipsing the tiny flickers.  A fellow parishioner pointed at the missal , which directed, the church lights now are turned on.”  Blow ‘em out, folks—let’s move along into the 20th century!  Yup, we wouldn’t want to be getting too religious now, would we? 

The obligatory three Old Testament readings were read; heck, we all know the creation story inside and out, why bother reading it again! When the Gloria arrived, the sanctuary candles were lit, only it didn’t make much difference due to the the 60 watt Reveal bulbs glaring brightly.  Thank you Jesus for dying and rising to save me.  Thank you Jesus for showing up during hasty liturgy.  Oh Jesus, forgive me for my irritation during Your most sacred rising…..Not even a thurible of incense graced the sanctuary.   Father had a long week, and wanted to get to bed.  He said so in his homily. 

We fumbled into the dark muggy Alabama night, wondering what just happened.  Our bodies ached with hunger, as did our souls.  Where was Easter?  We did what any good Catholic does in a crisis—reflected on the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas.  Grace builds on nature.  Our nature was famished, and this called for food and a plan of action! 

We drove back home after binging at a Chinese Buffet (the only night that Mom doesn’t require the consumption of vegetables before hitting the tapioca or icecream machine!) in silence.  The Easter bunny’s midnight run ended at half past one.   As I was attempting to fall asleep, many thoughts plagued my mind.    We fast, pray and give alms.  We strip the church and cover statues.  The priest and sanctuary wear violet.  Shouldn’t the Easter season do the same?  The explanation we parents give to our kiddos about fasting and sacrifice are balanced with the uber-feasting of Easter.  We fast together, we party together!

Liturgically, our parish does Lent well.  We don’t even have to put up with the ever popular “desert scene” that hits sanctuaries everywhere in the West out here in the South.  But when it comes to Easter, it is merely a return to Ordinary time.   Liturgically speaking, with the plague of the dreaded “option” in the missal, the Easter season seems no more a high feast than a nice optional memorial where the priest opts to change his vestment for a change.  Give me the smells, give me the bells!  Hey, if you want to get charismatic about it, this is the time to do it brother!  Let’s sing that Alleluia with vigor and joy!   

I was craving some celebration!  Easter needed to invade our family the way Lent had.  The Resurrected Jesus needed to be adored in Liturgy the way we reflected and adored His Passion in Lent.  We opted not to despair of a singular anticlimactic liturgy, and resolved to chalk it up as an isolated situation.  Falling asleep, we decided to try again at the morning mass at another parish to get some much needed Resurrection caffeine.

part two will be posted soon...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bright Monday, Bright Tuesday

Christ is risen from the dead
By His death, He trampled death
And to those in the graves He granted life!

source: comeandseeicons.com

Easter continues until Pentecost, so we continue to sing Christ is risen throughout the Divine Liturgy. We continue to greet each other with Christ is risen- indeed He is risen. We have fasted for 40 days, so the Church balances that with feasting for at least an equal amount. The Great Fast and the Easter season are the most important moments of the Christian's life as a 'spiritual seesaw.' 

The Byzantine spiritual life is always mixed with joy and sadness- we continue to sing Alleluia during the Great Fast, we dwell on His death even while we are singing of His resurrection, we celebrate the triumph of the cross during fast time, His shroud is decorated with flowers. I suppose we do this because to completely focus on one aspect would be too sad. Whenever we look at the crucifix, we must remember the resurrection because that is the 'happy ending' that we all aspire to. To fully appreciate the Risen Lord and what He did for us, however, we must commemorate His death as well.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christ is risen!

from Saint John Chrysostom
 
If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
 
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
 
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!
 
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free.
 
He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions." It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
 
It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!
 
"O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?"
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
 
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that slept.
To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

another good Saint Joseph

source:allmercifulsavior.com

The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Thy most pure Body from the tree, wrapped it in fine linen, and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
 
The angel came to the myrrh-bearing women at the tomb and said: Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PrettyHappyFunnyReal & HOLY

It's Holy Week! Inspired by Like Mother, Like Daughter to find the 'extra in the ordinary,' here is my second pretty, happy, funny, real offering...
Pretty

Happy
Funny
Real 
and
Holy
More about the 'real' photo: This picture was taken a few years ago early Easter morning. The girls had been at church until really late Saturday and we were preparing to go back to church for another service. So they had about 15 minutes to run around and find candy and other goodies. This is a drawback to being a priest's kid: you might not open presents on Christmas until the evening. You might have to dash around for Easter candy and then put it away for a few more hours because you have church to attend. again. But I think: so far, so good.

I pray that every reader is having a holy Holy Week! Let's all meditate on the awesome love that Jesus had and has and will have for all of us- isn't it amazing?


IMG_8896-3

a tisket a tasket

source: ukrainian-n-things.com

Your Easter basket should contain the following items- plus any other special treats to break the Great Fast with joy:
  • Paska (white yeast bread made with milk, sugar and eggs; similar to challah or panatone; I put sweet cheese in mine)
  • ham & sausages & roast lamb if it is available
  • horseradish- a nod to the Jewish Passover
  • boiled eggs- symbolizing new life in the Risen Lord
  • cheese, butter- more foods that we have been abstaining from, it is fun to make the butter in the shape of a lamb
  • wine plus a special drink for the kids
  • a candle to light during the blessing of the baskets
The basket is covered by a beautiful cloth saying "Christ is Risen"- this is a project I want to do with my big girls for next year for their baskets. In the meantime, they have simple, hand-woven cloths to use. In a nod to my American-style food safety paranoia, I always put a large 'blue ice' in the bottom of each basket. I am the only one who I know that does this, so if you see blue ice in a Pascha basket, you have found me!
 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

eggs from the old country

Coloring eggs is serious business for many of our believers. Central and Eastern European countries excel at the sort of eggs like the ones pictured above. You can buy plastic sleeves that look like the authentic eggs that wrap around the eggs when you dip them in boiling water. Or boil eggs in natural dye like brown onion peels with cheesecloth keeping leaves and flower petals on the egg to make designs while coloring. We go a bit simpler still and color our eggs red like the one you usually see in icons with Mary Magdalene.

In our old country and the parish here in the states, people share their Pascha (Easter) baskets after the Divine Liturgy. The priest blesses the baskets and then everyone gets down to the business of eating all the goodies that they sacrificed during the Great Fast. We also eat plenty of colored eggs because we play a little game that goes like this: two people face each other, each holding a colored egg. One person says "Christ is Risen," and the other person says "Indeed He is risen" and then the two people tap the tops of their eggs together. The egg that does not break 'wins' and then you turn the eggs around and try again. I've heard that some people get so serious about this game that they feed their chickens extra calcium so that their eggs will win! I'm not sure what the prize is, though...

Tomorrow, I'll write about Pascha baskets...these are not just for the kids...this is one tradition that I think the Roman-rite should copy (actually, I think in Western Slovakia they do this in the Roman-rite)

Monday, April 18, 2011

palms & pussywillows

Palm Sunday is a major feast day. It is a little crescendo of happiness before we get down to solemnity of Holy Week. This past Sunday morning, we had the mission's Divine Liturgy after the main Byzantine Liturgy (different ethnic jurisdiction and language; it is their beautiful church). In front of the icons of Jesus and the Theotokos were pots of palms and pussywillows and the icon on the stand was changed to Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. It probably took about 5 minutes to place the palms where they belonged. 

The night before, we have the Divine Liturgy at a Roman-rite 'chapel' (actually rather large). We have four large, moveable icons to simulate a proper icon screen that live in a closet during the week. Their decorations for Palm Sunday must have taken a long time to put up. The 15-foot banners on either side of the crucifix were changed from the general Lenten banners to Palm Sunday banners. The pots and stones in the middle of the altar space were changed and palms were added. Because of the starkness of the church during ordinary time, it takes a lot of extra work to decorate for major feast days.

So this is why our mission will be celebrating Easter Liturgy in a living room. Our Saturday Liturgies are at 5:30, and usually the chapel doesn't have any events on Saturdays, so we are free to use it. But Easter is another story. It will take them hours to change the church from Good Friday decor to Easter, so we cannot be there for Liturgy. Their Easter vigil is at 10 PM, and two and half hours is not enough to change the decorations. So we will have our little Liturgy in a living room.

We will have a late mission Liturgy Saturday at the other church and join the parish Sunday morning. The church will be decorated with a few pots of lilies, and that is all. For those churches that still have a statuary or icon screen, not a lot needs to be done to fancy up the space...

Friday, April 15, 2011

CleanUpCleanUp- 7 QuickTakes

I think it was Erma Bombeck who said that "cleaning your house while you are raising children is like shoveling the sidewalk while it's still snowing." Well- sometimes it is actually a good idea to shovel while it's snowing! Might as well- slow and steady might save your back..so here are my 7 quick ideas to keeping the house good enough for a husband to come home to- and don't you feel PEACEFUL when the kitchen sink is clean- and ready for more dirty dishes?!

Some of these quick takes are (hobbit) pipe dreams that I haven't implemented, others are 50/50 successes, and others are advice that I actually am not hypocritical about...you can guess which is which!

keeping your home livable and presentable
while raising children, not grass

1. read Like Mother, Like Daughter for advice and inspiration- not this blog. I know Leila says she isn't perfect, but I bet she doesn't have birth certificates in the hutch and three jars of open salsa verde in her fridge (at least they're fresh). Also, Flylady's site is chock full of inspiration and has nothing to do with perfectionism.

2. make dinner while you make breakfast- a slow cooker and perhaps a rice cooker is important for this. You might just prep the food and then finish at 5:30 or so, but there is not much worse than 5:30 with nothing but a frozen whole chicken, half-gone broccoli and some raw potatoes.

3. for homeschoolers- if your kids were in private school, they would have a uniform and they would have less clothes. yes,yes- I know they are all hand-me-downs or thrifted BUT the kids have too many clothes. What to do? First- always say yes to hand-me-downs and always say no to loans (what if they get torn or stained?) Look through the bags without anyone watching and immediately Goodwill (in black bags) anything that is not what you want or need. Keep this Goodwill bag in the car and get rid of it. After you have vetted the hand-me-downs, then ask your kids what they like. Anything they don't want or need, Goodwill immediately (yes- I made 'Goodwill' a verb). Go through their clothes, pack and put away anything that is out of season....and most of all, consider buying those navy blue uniform skirts and pants that are on sale in the Fall. On a school day, this is what they wear with whatever top they like. It will cut down on dilly-dallying and they will always look nice.

4. pack more than half of the toys away and then consider getting rid of things that are not missed. Some kids get into carefully packed away toys and clothes, so make room in the garage or even your closet. Goodwill things when it is practical.

5. for moms of young children, do NOT pick up after the kids. If you have packed most of the toys away to rotate in and out, there won't be that many. Then, have the kids pick up before nap time and before daddy comes home. Don't nag the sweet kids about leaving things out in between these times lest they lose heart. And you will know that there will be times when the floor isn't covered in matchbox cars.

6. complaining kids? Have everybody do something; give specific instructions to each kid and have them work in different rooms if need be. Give the toddler a moist cloth. Give the three year old a small broom and dust pan and go from there. Put on some upbeat music- NOT the soundtrack of The Mission! Have a smile on your face and popsicles in the freezer for when you're done. Then cleaning isn't seen as the worst thing ever.

7. get yourself a kitchen maid and an upstairs maid if you have kids 9 and up (or even younger if you are brave)- every week my kitchen and upstairs maids switch- it even determines which big girl sits with which little kid. The kitchen maid does the dishes and any other kitchen task like sweeping and wiping counters. She also chooses recipes and makes dinner on Mondays. The upstairs maid is designated little kid wrangler and deals with trash and laundry. She is also in charge of Family Fun Fridays (which sometimes turn into Family Fun 15 Minutes). As the Momma, I reserve the right to help them and also have them be flexible with helping each other.
 Happy Cleaning!
It's our duty, so we might as well do it marginally well 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

PrettyHappyFunnyReal

Pretty


Happy


Funny
Real


...here are my selections for the FIRST EVER 'Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real' linky party hosted by the lovely ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter...not only is my camera down for the count, the memory card from our European summer (which I hadn't downloaded yet) is floating around the house...Saint Anthony, please come 'round, something is lost and can't be found!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

homeschool room clean up

For a family of 6 that homeschools, we are asking our little townhouse to do a lot. Unlike the majority of our neighbors, we don't leave the house all by her lonesome from 8 to 6 every day. So, this little house gets used- a bit like a horse that is ridden hard and put away sweaty. Poor house, it never gets a rest.


Our one-car garage is the family room/ pantry/ storage area/ schooling room. The book shelf started to bow out under the weight of so much stuff, so the shelves fell down. So, now we have a new book shelf, and I have to clean up the place while the big girls are doing some test preparation for their standardized tests at the end of the month. 

By the way- the picture is for laughs- our house is NOT that bad (the pic is from athomedad.com)

update: not surprisingly, I didn't get as far as I had hoped. My excuse?- big bunk bed boxes in the middle of the room. I did collect books, games and cds to return to the homeschool charter school library. Also- I got rid of random trash (popsicle stick anyone?) and started a Goodwill bag. We will 'keep plugging away' at this. My goal is a peaceful spot to 'do school.' and to have our charter school meetings in there iinstead of the kitchen table. 

Yes, as a homeschooler, we try to use words like 'learning room,' but it always comes back to 'school room' even though my kids have never been to school except for an ill-fated semester at parks and rec preschool 4 hours a week. I pulled them out when the girls told me that they were just watching Dora the Explorer. I can do that at home.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Emergency Lenten Meal

  • open a can of refried beans and spread on a tostada shell
  • add some salsa and any veggies on hand
  • if it isn't Wednesday or Friday, go wild and add some shredded cheese and sour cream
  • slice an avocado and try to hide it from the kids
  • kids discover avocado; 'share' most of it even though they already had lunch
  • microwave tostada for about a minute; leave the kitchen to wrangle the kids
  • come back to kitchen; discover that plate was not covered and refried beans have exploded a bit.
  • clean up microwave's bean explosion while tostada cools
  •  eat it; make another if still hungry, being careful to cover the plate

Monday, April 11, 2011

another funeral

This time- the deceased was the father of a doctor at my husband's hospital. He was visiting his doctor daughter from the old country and succumbed to cancer. They are an Orthodox family, but their ethnic group is not represented in our community, so my husband helped them with the service at the funeral home. The other services will be at their Orthodox church in his country.

Our big girls helped me with the responses and then sang their 'go-to' funeral song, a pretty secular song (from a poem by Christina Rossetti) they learned in choir that works in any faith situation. I was proud of my oldest who powered through her personal feelings of loss (it has been ten years since we lost a very special family member and her godmother died almost two years ago) to sing the song. Our second daughter is less outwardly sensitive, but still....the widow was happy with the special touch. Our little girl behaved in her stroller and our four year old boy was at preschool. I was happy that he could miss the open casket. In our 'line of work' we see a lot of grief and I don't want the kids to get too morbid.


Remember- Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,   
Gone far away into the silent land;   
When you can no more hold me by the hand,   
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.   
Remember me when no more day by day 
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:   
Only remember me; you understand   
It will be late to counsel then or pray.   
Yet if you should forget me for a while   
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave   
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,   
Better by far you should forget and smile   
Than that you should remember and be sad. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Family Saints- 7 QuickTakes

St Gregory of Nyssa (c.334-394) brother of St Basil, theologian
Saint Anne- mother of the Theotokos
St John the Forerunner, cousin of Jesus
Saint Mary Magdalene- equal to the Apostles

Venerable Pope John Paul
Saint George the Great Martyr (c. 275-303)

St Gregory of Nazianzus (c.329-390), known as Gregory the Theologian

We have some great saints praying for us! Praying with the saints was one thing that attracted my family to the Catholic Church. I love that the Church has officially declared that so many virtuous people are in Heaven, seeing the face of God. The Church has not declared, however, that a person is definitively in hell.  So we live in HOPE and wait on God's MERCY and LOVE and JUSTICE.

Yes- we only have four children here on earth- so one of these seven patrons is praying WITH our child in heaven for the rest of us...the one patron who has not been officially declared a saint, yet.

find many more quick takes at conversiondiary.com

sources: wikipedia for both St Gregory icons,  John Paul II icon from bridgebuilding.com, all other icons from comeandseeicons.com

This Moment

no words- just memories....

find more moments at more at soulemama.com

10 facts about us

inspired by Betty Begulies, here are 10 very random facts about my husband and me:

1. I always prayed that my future husband would be the spiritual head of the household. Sometimes it is funny how God answers prayers.

2. He likes ice in his drinks, and I don't. Usually Europeans are fine with no ice but Americans need tons- I guess we are just unusual that way.

3. He has all possible backgammon moves memorized for whatever roll he makes. I don't.

4. He doesn't really like Star Wars or Star Trek all that much, but we will be getting a babysitter so we can watch The Hobbit whenever it is finally finished.

5. After watching that kids' song to Obama, he had flashbacks to his childhood when kids were forced to sing praises to the dictator. Just saying...

6. He can lecture our kids when they waste a banana. When he was a kid, he would have to wait in line for hours for the chance to buy 2 bananas. But I still don't really like bananas...

7. He has never ridden a horse while I had a pony as a young child- there was Penny, Peanut, Scout, Rebel...

8. While he was helping his grandparents butcher pigs in the old country, I was walking my pet goat Friday in the States.

9. Long story....the month before we got married he lived in my big sister's garage- which was an improvement over the empty church rectory where he lived first along with 'meth' neighbors on all sides.

10. Before we got married, we satisfied the requirements of 4 different dioceses (His diocese/eparchy back home, our Byzantine eparchy here, another Byzantine eparchy here because the 2 priests witnessing the marriage were in that jurisdiction, and the Roman-rite diocese because we got married in my parents' parish)

These facts are pretty random....and not that interesting.... :)....maybe Betty has some better ones!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

chaplain versus 'chaplain'

"Whatever your personal beliefs, let us use this time to celebrate life and remember that we don't know how long we have on earth. 'John' was a loving husband, a wonderful father. This grave now symbolizes life. And we remember with fondness 'John's' life. God, be a comfort to his family. Let us all have a moment of silence.....Now- let us hear some personal remembrances about 'John.' "

The hospice chaplain prayed these words; nothing about God's judgment and mercy, nothing about Jesus,  really not much of substance. Her entire presentation seemed to rest on the fact that she was desperately trying to not offend anyone. I surmised that 'John' and his family wanted a very secular graveside service and that this is what he wanted. I am not about to 'argue' with the departed. But after the eulogies, a sister in full habit walked up to the microphone and started the rite of committal. Any priest parts were missing, but the rich language of mercy, forgiveness, and heaven were there. This sister was part of the nursing team that made home visits to 'John' for a year. I marveled at her courage in the face of secularism, but then a friend alluded that 'John' had (perhaps) converted with the help of the sisters. Chaplains will meet patients 'where they are.' Making converts in a hospital and hospice setting isn't what professional chaplaincy is about- but the hospice chaplain should have met 'John' where he is now- with a true Christian service. But she was too concerned about offending the Buddhists and New Agers and others.So I was relieved to hear Sister pray.

I love the richness of the following prayers of committal:
Lord Jesus Christ,
by your own three days in the tomb,
you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you
and so made the grave a sign of hope
that promises resurrection
even as it claims our mortal bodies.
Grant that our brother may sleep here in peace
until you awaken him to glory
for you are the resurrection and the life.

Because God has chosen to call our brother from this life to Himself,
we commit his body to the earth,
for we are dust and onto dust we shall return.
But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory,
for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead.
So let us commend our brother to the Lord,
that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eternal Memory

I'll be taking the kids to a graveside service of a homeschooling dad of three children in a few hours. We know his kids and their mother but not him. Although he, suffering from cancer, had been cared for at home for the past year by sisters whose ministry is to perform home health care, they are not a religious family. There will be no church service. We have never been close to death where God and heaven and the 'last things' weren't the focus of discussion and comfort. So, there's not much to say...but personally, I find a lot of comfort and hope in the following words:

Thou only Creator Who with wisdom profound mercifully orders all things, and gives to all that which is useful, give rest, 0 Lord, to the soul of Thy servant who has fallen asleep, for he has placed his trust in Thee, our Maker and Fashioner and our God (Troparion).

With the saints give rest, 0 Christ, to the soul of Thy servant where sickness and sorrow are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting (Kontakion).

What earthly sweetness remains unmixed with grief? What glory stands immutable on the earth? All things are but feeble shadows, all things are most deluding dreams, yet one moment only, and death shall supplant them all. But in the light of Thy countenance, 0 Christ, and in the sweetness of Thy beauty, give rest to him whom Thou hast chosen, for as much as Thou loves mankind.

I weep and lament when I think upon death, and behold our beauty created in the likeness of God lying in the tomb disfigured, bereft of glory and form. 0 the marvel of it! What is this mystery concerning us? Why have we been delivered to corruption? Why have we been wedded unto death? Truly, as it is written, by the command of God Who gives the departed rest (Funeral Hymns from St John of Damascus)

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Daybook for April

Outside my window... our cat, again (townhouse landscapes are pretty quotidian)

I am thinking...  about plans for the summer- part-time teaching, ballet intensives,  maybe a homeschooling conference, visiting family, a Great American Roadtrip (?)

I am thankful for... my husband who has taken over night duty for the baby since I have been coughing. 

From the kitchen... mac and cheese with tuna and peas- very 1950's!

I am wearing... pants!

I am creating... tiered skirts in pink checked cotton for all the girl cousins; trying to get done by Easter, but maybe Pentecost is looking more doable 

I am going... to try to write a few posts that require more theology. I always shy away from the complicated. I am more practical, but sometimes solid apologetics is required.

I am reading... The Wise Woman and Other Stories by George MacDonald; then, I'll pass it on to my big girls. I bought it for them

I am hoping... to get over this cough- the last time I had a bad cough, it took me three months to recover. I have a doctor's appointment in a few days...

I am hearing... my girls practice reading aloud from an old country book.

Around the house... I am trying to do Spring cleaning and not really succeeding.
 
One of my favorite things... is hummus and pita bread chips and a sliced tomato with Lawry's seasoned salt and black pepper.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Prepare for Monday when I am substitute teaching 4 evenings a week at the college (I haven't been teaching since January- it is a short and boring story)

more daybooks can be found at the simple woman's daybook
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