Thursday, January 31, 2013

Surprising Scandalous Secrets - 7 Quick Takes

Scandalous? No. Secret? No (or I wouldn't write about it). Surprising? (Maybe)
1. A Vietnamese 'Pho' restaurant opened in town last year. We don't have a lot of Vietnamese immigrants here, so we were happily surprised to see it. It brings back memories of a Vietnamese restaurant we would eat at when I was very pregnant with our first baby; the waitress warned me about my consumption of the hot and sour soup. maybe that is why Girl #1 can have a fiery personality...
The first few times we went, I would just get rice and grilled meat- husband would get a large bowl of Pho with meat, tripe, tendon- sounds gross, right? Well, last week I finally got a bowl of the soup. I'll never go back to eating a bowl of rice at a Pho place again. Yummy! Anyway, it was hypocritical of me to turn up my nose at the tripe and tendon when I happily eat muscle portions of meat. I'm trying to get back before Lent begins....perhaps an early St Valentines' Day dinner?

2. Not that anyone is watching and judging...but I usually talk or text while pushing baby girl on the swings while the big girls are at the dog park before Shakespeare on Friday mornings. I should be more of a Hands Free mama, but do my kids need me playing with them all the time.? Occasionally I do, but sometimes kids need to be with kids. I'd love my kids to be more free range, but usually it goes about as far as them ordering their own cocoas with me looking on at the coffee shop table. As usual, I haven't "picked a side." Can the same woman love classical music (mostly requiems), folk music, Church chant, this song
and this song
...I haven't chosen a side with music either. Except rap. can't do it. Sorry Jen Fulwiler. Unless it is DC Talk...and this song doesn't have much rap in any case...
3. My mother couldn't contain her joy with the announcement of Bishop Sample for their archdiocese. She called me, told me, and then hung up to call another child of hers. That;s okay, Mom. We'll talk later! 

4. Just a tip- if your children bring home the-bug-that-shall-not-be-named, run to your computer and order this. Comb three times a day for three days or so and you might get a handle on the disgusting things. Don't bother much with the chemically shampoos or the drugstore combs. Don't ask me how I know.
5. Enough about the celibacy stuff- except with every episode of Cadfael, I am afraid that the good brother will break his monastic vow of celibacy. I love people- even fictional ones- that remain true to their vows. We are halfway through the series- so far, so good. But then I clicked on the illustrious actor Derek Jacobi's bio and discovered that he is no monk. IMDB really reveals everything; I prefer the old days of thinking all the actors were mysterious and virtuous. Please, don't tell me anything negative about Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck or Danny Kaye.

6. But there are some great things about IMDB.com- now, I know every television show and movie that my paternal grandfather was in! He was in seven episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show- playing seven different characters. Viva Old Hollywood!

7. I'm saddened when I hear anecdotal evidence for the destruction of the smaller rites. One Sunday, a family with small children goes to their closest Byzantine Catholic church. The small group of believers are mourning the loss of an older parishioner, so they neglect to greet the family. The family never goes back; there's an RC parish closer in any case. The next Sunday, another young Byzantine Catholic family attends the same parish Divine Liturgy. But the 'church isn't growing,' so they decide to attend the closer RC parish. In any case, the children are attending that school and they get confused with the different traditions. 
The Sunday after that, another young Byzantine Catholic family attended the Divine Liturgy. They are disturbed that the Liturgy is half in English and half in Romanian, so they leave to attend one of the many Romanian Orthodox parishes that have a 100% Romanian Liturgy. They feel a little guilty because grandfather-priest died in Siberia, refusing to renounce the Catholic faith, but they want their children to 'know their culture.'
Praise God, we have freedom of religion in the United States and you are not forced to worship in the state religion, but no place is perfect. If the Byzantine Catholic faith is important to you, take some advice from Gandhi (yes, Gandhi): “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pretty Happy Funny Real Haircuts & Stuff

Pretty & Happy- We haven't been that happy with the ballet situation around here, and I've reduced their classes to a tech class and a pointe class. The silver lining? They (the 2 big girls) will begin a three-hour contemporary class with their first ballet teacher from ten years ago. It is through parks and rec. It is so affordable- I am giddy. Also, Baby Girl will actually get to do an outside activity  She will be in a pre-ballet class with the same teacher while the big girls are at Shakespeare. I'm also giddy about the proximity of the classes. 
Funny- I didn't get a photo. I was too angry. I'm sure that years from now, I'll laugh. Three-year old girl + scissors = Mia Farrow-esque look. Then, add Mama who tries to even out the Gollum-style wisps and said baby girl starts weeping and blaming Mama for cutting her hair, conveniently forgetting that she, baby girl, started it all.
this is LONG...she cut it shorter (sob)
Real- Of course, the 'Real' this week was all about processing the issue of continence for (rare, usually former Anglican) married priests in the Roman-rite- read my post from Monday to get acquainted.  But it is interesting- even in the old country and in the Byzantine rite, the 'party line' is still 'Celibacy is superior.' 

The Deacon's Bench posted a beautiful article from the CNEWA about the day to day life of a married Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic priest and how he makes it work with his family. It isn't easy. He seems very devoted and hard-working, along with his wife and extended family. But it states that in Ukraine, the Basilian Fathers encourage celibacy. Of course they do, they are monks and would love vocations to the monastic life. The article finishes by stating "despite the challenges of balancing his vocation with the needs of his family, Father Havrylenko expresses no regrets- “A celibate priest can devote his life more to the church, but marriage has helped me change and improve myself.”

This I don't understand. The entire article shows that he is devoted completely to the Church.  So, being 'completely devoted to the Church' means there can be no outside attachments or friendships? Then I believe that every priest should be a monk, devoted to life as an ascetic.  As much as I love and respect the celibate priests in my life, I can conclude that one is 'married' to his Netflix queue, one is 'married' to his private plane, one is 'married' to his thrice weekly golf game. They spend as much time with their various 'wives' as my husband does with me- well...I'm sure they don't text their golf clubs occasionally during the work day- so there's that. Now, I understand that there are theological reasons to encourage celibacy. In the Eastern rites, celibate men are encouraged to be monastic. But for practical reasons, how does marriage limit a man's devotion to the Church? Just as with each child being born, the love can grow (if the vocation is there along with God's grace). -click on the link for a perspective for the 'Father Father' blog

My husband works about 50 hours a week as director of spiritual care at a hospital. This is part of his priestly ministry and what financially supports himself and his dependents. He celebrates three daily Masses a week along with three Sunday masses (one is a Sunday vigil). There are other prayer services and Bible studies weekly. He spends at least two hours in confessions plus more if people call and make an appointment. Because our church is so small, we do not have a church office. The office is his cellphone. So, there is no gate-keeper. Call and leave a message (he might be in Mass or confession) and he will get back to you right away. And yes, he makes time for the people in his life- mostly his family. Surgeons spend less time with their families and their families can't be a part of the surgeries like we can be a part of his ministry...

My husband definitely puts in the hours and heart to show his devotion to the Church. In some cases, it can be a case of 'if you want something done, ask a busy person.' He will come to anoint you at 2 AM in the hospital even though you refused the sacrament during his official work hours. And yes, he will wait until the 'normal' priest doesn't show up at the homeschooling event and will bless the food for you.
oops- that 'real' got a bit long-winded 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sex & the Married Priesthood: Ceasing Marital Relations within Marriage a "Praiseworthy Thing"?

Canon Lawyer Ed Peters praises Deacon John Cornelius, 64, who states that he will abstain from conjugal relations after he is ordained a Catholic priest. Peters says Canon 277 of the Western Code of Canon Law insists on perfect continence of all clergy, whether celibate or married. Now, Mr Peters is not the final word on the canon; Rome is. But Rome has been silent, to my knowledge, on this issue. I would suggest that Ed Peters is the best known Canon lawyer in the English speaking world. So his word will have a lot of weight (and hurt couples who feel shameful for being and acting married) until Rome clarifies the canon. 

Now Deacon John, if you would 'like to be perfect,' sell all that you have, reject your Episcopalian pension, and join a monastery. Your wife can join a convent. 
Occasional readers of this blog might be shocked at my harshness, but long-time friends will realize this is me, speaking from my heart. There is nothing wrong with a married couple bonding through conjugal relations. In fact, this is the marriage debt that couples owe to each other. If the Church permits married men to be ordained clergy, the Church must allow marital relations between these married couples.

There is the extremely rare 'Josephite marriage' that can be an exceptional response to God's call.  Some marriages begin with complete and constant continence and chastity. Of course, the supreme example of this is the marriage between Mary the Theotokos and her husband Saint Joseph. As Catholics, we believe they never kissed. They never were in any situation that would cause arousal, such as changing clothes in each other's vicinity. There was never any sexual feelings between them. The unitive aspect of their marriage existed only through their agape love for each other and their love for Yahweh and her son (Joseph's adopted son) Jesus Christ. 

How dare I even imagine that Mary and Joseph were not sexually aroused by each other! Well,  doesn't Canon 277, according to Ed Peters, declare that sexual arousal must not happen with ordained married men and their wives? Is the Church that obsessed with the lawful, non-contraceptive activities of married couples? Can married deacons and priests sleep in the same bed as their wives? Can they kiss them goodbye (discretely, of course)? Can they hold hands (never on the church grounds, clearly)? What level of affection becomes confessional material? All of these activities could illicit arousal which might cause the married couple to desire marital relations at some point. So if Canon 277 is correctly interpreted by Peters, they should not be in the same home. Perhaps the wives can come in to cook and clean- for free, of course! Wives don't charge their husbands to do wifely duties!

Another time that a continent marriage might occur is through illness or age. We vow to love our spouses in sickness and in health. If one decides with the agreement of the spouse to cease marital relations because of illness or age, this can be a beautiful witness to the unitive aspect of marriage that is brought about by history, friendship and love. But is it a Josephite marriage when marital relations did occur in the past and one still gives and receives varying degrees of marital affection (such as hugs, holding hands, kisses) that would not be permissible for someone not married? 

No, it is not a Josephite marriage even if marital relations cannot occur because of illness or age. We have all seen and read about older couples in nursing homes that have twin beds and hold hands before they go to sleep. He orders her roses for their 60th anniversary. She blushes when he pats her back when they dance with the help of walkers. These blushes and kisses did not occur in the marriage of Mary and Joseph, which is the example of pure chastity and continence.

And is it the world's business when marital relations will not occur for whatever reason between married couples? I would be humiliated if my husband spoke about such personal, lawful things! Deacon John needs to realize that he will not fit in with his brother priests even after he confessed to all that he will not be with his wife. In my opinion, he is having a difficult time reconciling both vocations. In my opinion, Canonist Ed Peters is disturbed with the possibility of married men being ordained. Perhaps it's the priest's wife concept that is disturbing to him. It is a very historical perspective- the decadence of the wives. His insistence on married men not acting married is part and parcel of this.

I say that it is impossible for a loving married couple (a couple not in an extremely rare Josephite marriage from the beginning) to be perfectly continent because marital relations is much more than intercourse. It is an emotional intimacy with another person that a celibate person does not experience. Marital relations is to receive a cup of coffee lovingly from your wife, as you can see from the video of Deacon John. If he entered a monastery, a housekeeper or a fellow monk giving him coffee would be a completely different thing. Marital relations is to be frustrated together over the latest mistake a child has made. Marital relations is to buy the stinky cheese that he likes so much. Marital relations is to clip coupons and soak beans cheerfully. To reduce marital relations to simply sexual intercourse (the lack of intercourse being the perfect continence required supposedly by canon 277) is to reduce us to animals who rut without thinking.

If you watch the short video of Deacon John at the Deacon's Bench blog, you might see that his declaration of future continence was unplanned and almost like he was telling the reporter a secret. I wonder if he regrets that statement now, as it degrades his marital vocation and the privacy of his marriage relationship. This declaration will not earn him praise by fellow priests, especially if they have struggled with their choice of a celibate life. Deacon John was able to enjoy married life normally, have three children, and now, even if he does not have marital relations with his wife after the age of 64, he gets to enjoy her companionship and help until the end of his life.

I'll be praying for Mrs. Cornelius who I suspect might feel like a hindrance to her husband's additional vocation because of this very public declaration from her husband. Most priests' wives are very quiet, trying not to scandalize the believers. We don't want to ruin it for others that will be coming after us. You don't see much of a presence of us wives on-line (....my sign-in name can disturb so many Catholics- I'm an extreme introvert...but my name is in everybody's face); maybe if we stay under the radar no one will be offended.  

As a fellow priest's wife, I invite you, Mrs. Cornelius, to not be ashamed of being who you are called to be. You are a wife, a mother, and the help of your husband who is a priest. It is your business how affectionate you are together. It is your business how you will serve the Church according to your talent and ability. You are travelling down a lonely road, but it is a road paved with grace.
___________________________________________________________________
edit: A married deacon told me that there was a 'commentary of the curia' in 1986 releasing married clergy from Canon 277 but not a re-written canon yet. He's trying to find the exact source and text

Out of over 400 posts, I have very rarely written about this topic. Click on the 'marriage' label for some thoughts. I found two posts that specifically target continence:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Quick Takes- Choose Life

This week commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Roe versus Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand in the USA. There have been an estimated 55 million legal abortions since then.
1. If you or a friend is suffering from the effects of abortion, perhaps Rachel's Vineyard could be the start of healing.

2. Small Things posted a wonderful link about Mary's Shelter, four homes for women in crisis pregnancies. They can stay as long as they need to! Click on the embedded video- just beautiful.

3. Have you watched this video entitled 'I Like Adoption?' We also have friends who have a 'United nations-style' family. They are really special people and the adopted children bring so much to the family life.
4. Jen Fulwhiler of Conversion Diary (and suffering from blood clots in the lungs while pregnant with her sixth child!) wrote a piece on why she used to be rabidly pro-choice. The title is 'Why My Support for Abortion was based on Love (and Lies)." It's a good reminder that we need to build a society where welcoming a child in a crisis situation won't be a disaster for the mother...in my opinion, economics more of a 'distributionist' variety would meet that goal.

5. The pro-abortion stance is changing from 'it's just a bunch of cells' to 'it doesn't matter if it's life.' The stance has to change because science is catching up very inconveniently. Viability? Well...that number is getting smaller and smaller as medical technology is becoming more advanced. The pro-abortion stance has to become like the opinions of journalist Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com. Her latest article is entitled "So What If Abortion Ends Life?" with the tagline "I believe that life starts at conception. And it's never stopped me from being pro-choice." Her honesty and flippancy is just a bit more elegantly put than the "Happy 40th Anniversary, Baby" video that I posted yesterday. The new direction of the pro-abortion argument is that much of life does not deserve to be on this earth.
6. "So what if abortion ends life?" Mary Elizabeth? Well-  "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. " Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

7. Some very serious words on abortion from the Church fathers:
The wealthy, in order that their inheritance may not be divided among several, deny in the very womb their own progeny. By use of' parricidal mixtures they snuff out the fruit of their wombs in the genital organs themselves. In this way life is taken away before it is born .... Who except man himself has taught us ways of repudiating children?"  St. Ambrose of Milan ca 339-397 A.D.-Hexameron 
Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? Where there are many efforts at abortion? Where there is murder before the birth? For you do not even let the harlot remain a mere harlot, but make her a murderer also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather something even worse than murder. For I have no real name to give it, since it does not destroy the thing born but prevents its being born. Why then do you abuse the gift of God and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the place of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? St. John Chrysostom ca 340-407 A.D.-Homily 24 on Romans
more quick takes at conversion diary

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pretty Happy Funny Real Life

I'll be marching for life in my town this Friday. Yes, life is pretty, happy and funny, but this week it is mostly 'real.'
Real 
--- Have you suffered from abortion? Perhaps you know someone who is regretting her abortion? Please get in touch with Rachel's Vineyard. It can be the beginning of healing.
--- Just watch this video. It is not a parody...I saw satan laughing (and winking) with delight...
--- Simcha Fisher wrote a fantastic piece on not using graphic images in our pro-life marches. I agree. The personhood of the baby needs to be emphasized. This is accomplished by using fetal development videos and photos. And of course in a crisis pregnancy situation, we need to help end the crisis, not the pregnancy (photo from webmd.com)
--- This is my only brother; he will turn 40 this summer. This is the face of what Roe versus Wade took from the world. 55 million people have been erased from this country since  abortion was declared legal. 
My brother is a husband and a father of three. He is a lawyer and a reservist serving his country. He pays taxes and contributes to society's good in many ways. He is a church-goer and a Knight of Columbus. He farms chickens and goats. He is an individual, but those who celebrate this sad anniversary wouldn't be upset if his existence had been terminated while in utero.
Although my parents were overjoyed to be pregnant with him, I have always connected my brother's life to the Roe v Wade anniversary because of his age. Every person deserves life!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Another Agnes: When a Catholic Friend Becomes an Atheist


Today is St Agnes' Day. Saint Agnes was an early virgin martyr. It brings to mind a very different Agnes in my life. I was teaching at a Catholic university in Europe, and she was a student there. She was sent to the campus by her bishop because she was a rising Catholic star in her formerly communist country. She went to morning prayer, Mass, and evening prayer every day. She always had a rosary in her pocket and prayed it frequently.

So I was surprised when she turned up a bit tipsy at a university dinner. Agnes cornered me and started telling me that God was dead to her. I was shocked and I'm afraid I didn't do much good. All I remember saying is "I love you, Agnes, and so does Jesus." This is probably the last thing she needed to hear while in a spiritual crisis or a depression. 

She then said, "Take this. I don't need it." And she handed me the small icon of Jesus that I keep on my bureau now seventeen years later. 

We haven't kept in touch, but I heard that she became a sister and is working somewhere in Africa. So she was able to find her faith again without my help.

I was checking my comment boxes today and found this one on the last post:

Really considering not believing in God or the Catholic Church anymore.
Made a blog to talk to others about it, if you're interested stop by:
http://catholicismontherocks.blogspot.com

So this blog is a reverse 'conversion diary.' She became an atheist before this past Christmas and is opening up her life to others. I didn't know what to write. I don't know what to say. Sometimes Catholics and other Christians are the worst possible 'advertisement' for Jesus. I hate to sound like a bumper sticker, but we aren't perfect, just redeemed. 

Faith is a gift. We cannot force our faith on others. We cannot convince others that God is real when they don't want Him to be. I could give suggestions like 'just listen to pray-as-you-go.org'- but would that help or hinder? I just pray that God reveals Himself to her in a meaningful way and she can find her faith again, like Agnes.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Baha'i Student Mohammed, Quinoa Guilt & Other Quick Takes

1. It is always exciting to have a diverse ESL class, and this means getting a few students of non-Mexican origin. In one of my classes, I have an older student named Mohammed. He shared that he has a wife and three daughters who remain in Iran. The other students started to ask him about Islam, and he responded that he is Baha'i and has been imprisoned three times. His daughters are not permitted to attend university, and he is in the United States as a refugee. 
My first teaching experience was in Austria with a classroom filled with college-graduates from sixteen different countries. To make the teaching experience even more rewarding, the students all had American roommates, so they learned English very quickly. I have now been teaching in the United States for over a decade, and I miss the educated 'captive audience' I once had. The typical ESL student at a community college has had six years of formal education. It is a challenge working with adults who do not know how to be a student.

2. I started the new semester, teaching at the local college. I haven't ordered books yet for my students because I have no idea what level they are. So, I'll be formulating my own curriculum for another week. Then, they have the choice to buy the book or make copies from the library. Did you know- there is a box I can check on my roster, forcing each student to buy a copy of the book or they will not receive credit for the class. The average ESL book (soft-cover, 250 pages) is 45 dollars. I refuse to check that box. 

3. I was stumped as to what to give to my children for lunch. I took quinoa and boiled it in chicken broth and then threw in pieces of spinach and arugula. I felt good for giving them a healthy lunch that everyone ate. And then I clicked on this article from the guardian, telling all us Western hipster types that we are what is wrong with the world and that the people who farm quinoa can no longer afford it because of international demand....
4. These quick takes are getting serious! Here's Sting singing 'The Cherry Tree Carol'- from his album If On a Winter's Night- rest for the weary....but the entire album is rather serious, befitting its title.

5. What should I do with our Christmas tree? I'd like to be rid of it before Lent begins (Monday February 11th for us new calendar Byzantine Catholics!) Yes- St Valentine's Day is after Lent begins...so let's plan ahead and have our filet mignon the Sunday before (or after) ! (I can't find the source of the image below...so I probably shouldn't have used it....but it is so cute)
6. I continued my save-a-step cooking strategy with yesterday's dinner. I used leftover broccoli and ham and made three quiches with sauteed scallions and crumbled feta. The photo below is before the egg and cheese mixture was added.
 7. My older sister has 8 children between 16 and 1, all boys except the second and third to the last being lovely girls with curls. It has been a long tradition of theirs to have 'movie night' on Saturdays. Can you suggest any media that could work for all those age groups? I am completely out of ideas! 
She sometimes reads this blog, so please comment below- no account or code needed!
go to Jen's Conversion Diary for more!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pretty Happy Funny Real Save-a-Step Cooking

I'm joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for their weekly link-up, and I've been inspired by Leila's 'save-a-step' (read their sidebar for various cooking posts) cooking philosophy. 
We ate slow cooker 'sort-of sarmale' (cabbage rolls) using the save-a-step method. I chopped up a head of fresh cabbage and poured already-made marinara sauce over it along with a cup of water (If I had pickled cabbage, I might not have added tomato) in my large slow cooker.
In a frying pan, I sauteed chopped scallions, minced garlic with a half pound of pork sausage and a pound of ground chicken. Drain any fat. I mixed about three cups of already-cooked rice (if you look carefully at the photo, a few bits of broccoli remain from yesterday's rice) into the meat and scallion mixture and then layered the meat and rice over the cabbage. 
I added fresh dill and cooked it for four hours on high- plenty of time for the cabbage to cook and the flavors to blend. This is a very quick way to try and replicate cabbage rolls; don't forget the sour cream!
Pretty? Not really...but it's yummy
Happy? I'm always happy when I know what's for dinner!
Funny? Well, there is only one in the family who turns up her nose at sour cream...more for the rest of us!
Real? We miss the old country- where no one makes 'sort of' cabbage rolls. It is always the real thing!

First World Problems for Priest's Wife: Mold, Asbestos, Termites, Bad Pipes

Today I rushed back from volunteering at Boy's kindergarten and picking up the CSA vegetable box to get our townhouse's ducts cleaned and furnace serviced. It was all a moot point when the serviceman saw asbestos wrapped around the furnace duct. We knew this three years ago when we tried to get the ducts cleaned before, but I thought a second opinion would change reality. It's getting chilly here. I haven't turned on the furnace for three years for fear of any asbestos in the air.
But then the serviceman said that it didn't help all that much to not turn on the furnace. There is still asbestos in the air. I had to hold back tears. Could our house be giving us cancer?

It is reminiscent of our brush with black mold in clergy housing. I had a strong reaction to it after our second daughter was born. I remember slowly crawling up the stairs of the school where I taught part time; the arthritis symptoms (but not arthritis- it is some kind of lupus-like autoimmune disorder) were so bad. I had to stop having the baby in bed with me because it took me so long to roll over or adjust my sleeping position; I didn't want to crush her. 

A few years after this event, we moved and I became pregnant with our third child. I had a miscarriage at about 20 weeks. The baby boy (John-Paul- he died a bit before Pope John-Paul) seemed perfect, but the placenta was calcified. This was most likely caused by an autoimmune attack on the placenta because normally placentas don't start breaking down until 42 weeks. 

I believe our old housing killed our baby.

When I was recovering from the miscarriage, one of my sisters and her children came to stay with us. The pipes backed up. We were alone, and I called the nationally best known plumber to fix it. That serviceman charged me over a thousand dollars to 'snake' the pipes. And he knew that I had just lost a baby. So I have a really difficulty trusting servicemen; I would rather my husband deal with these issues.

I am trying to be thankful that we have any housing. Most of the world lives in smaller, worse places, hence the post title. I do regret buying a house built in 1974. We should have known there would be major problems with the house that our 'sweat-equity' couldn't easily remedy. But the world does not owe us anything even though we have three Master's degrees between the two of us. The world does not owe us, even though my husband is working many different jobs to support us. I just wish we could be assured of health for our children and that our home were not a health hazard. I'm really not sure what our next step should be. Please spare a prayer for us!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blessed Mother Teresa- inspiration & hope for all

Perhaps it is the January doldrums, but I find myself severely lacking in love in action with family and friends. Blessed Mother Teresa is always an inspiration when it comes to repairing my sinful nature. I hope she will inspire you dear readers as well.

"Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action. 
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. 
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. 
Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.
The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between."

(Are you marching this January 25th? I'll be at my local march)
quotations from writings of Blessed Mother Teresa --- photos from Time.com archives

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meet Angel: rock climber, scholar, Catholic

How long have you been a practicing Catholic?
A cradle catholic, so always!
Care to share your conversion, reversion story?
I was drawn more deeply to communion with God through night adoration at our local chapel, and then through meeting with the parish's ToT and the resultant Young Adults group.
How does your faith inform your day-to-day life?
I pray every day, and I've centered it on the Sacred Heart. As such, I try to be mindful whenever I'm in public to try and be consistent with the ideals of the faith. It has caused me to work harder to forgive at work and to be merciful towards anyone who offends me.
What is your greatest challenge in practicing your faith?
My greatest challenge is frustration...often at God, sometimes other people. Also, striking a balance between different good things- sometimes it's really unclear whether I am serving God better by spending time with family members and assisting, or if I should take a mini retreat to re-center myself. 
favorite Bible verses?
Matthew 10:5-16, Luke 22:36-37, Tobit 12:13, 17-18, Wisdom 3:1-5
favorite Spiritual writing (besides Bible) quotation?
I'm a big fan of St. Teresa of Avila's writings, and St. Louis de Montfort.
favorite saint and why?
St. John the Beloved (ever since a theologian taught us that God lets us decide what our relationship is with Him, even though He loves equally; therefore John was not the beloved disciple because Jesus loved him more, but because John himself loved Jesus to a deeper degree than the others, and thus allowed Jesus to love him more in turn), St. Francis of Assisi because he's such a beautiful poet.
Do have have a living spiritual mentor?
Unfortunately, no- although I'm blessed in that there's a priest I admire greatly, and listening to him and being around him seems to help me become the kind of Catholic I want to be. 
What is your ministry in the church?
Again, to draw more young adults to the Church and a more fervent love of God.
education and job
I was educated in Literature and English at Ave Maria College and at the University of Dallas. I work in Customer Service as a team lead for an international records protection and secure shredding company that is based in the Philadelphia area. 
favorite movie, book, music 
Favorite movie: Master and Commander, favorite book: The Lord of the Rings. I have a wide taste in music, but mostly I like classic 60s and 70s rock and pop.
hobby, describe
Rock-climbing is one of my favorites, as well as swimming.
What is 'cool'/interesting about you?
I'm a multidisciplinarian- with a broad range of knowledge and skills. I like to pick up new knowledge all the time, and I'm good at memorizing lyrics and poetry.

Thank you Angel for sharing your story! 
Click on the 'I'm a Catholic' label below for other posts in this series

Friday, January 11, 2013

first 2013 quick takes

1. prayers, prayers and more prayers for Jen of Conversion Diary!

2. We got to go to the Knights of Columbus clergy appreciation dinner the other night (how did they make those green beans? They were so yummy!). Priest-husband is a Knight and he serves at the hospital as director of spiritual care. Lately, he has been 'supplying' the local Roman-rite parish with about two daily Masses, the 6:30 Sunday Mass and two hours of confessions. He has been well-received. A woman came up to greet me, telling me how much they appreciate his service. And then she said, "I just don't understand how he can be married." She said it again and then again and then she sought out my husband to complement him and then say she doesn't understand how he can be married. What does one say to that? All I said was, "he is honored to serve the parish." and then I did this: 
3.

4. This mega-blogger echoes my thoughts for 2013- "This year, one of my personal resolutions is to live a slower, more thoughtful (meaningful?) life. Less travel, more adventure. Less work, more challenges. And I need this to translate into all areas of my life: Less blogging, more learning. Less links, more inspiration. Less projects, more processes." from Design for Mankind through Simple Mom- I am about where I was last January...another year of blogging less dangerously....

5. Baby girl is watching Rudolph right now- learning all about elves who dream of being dentists. Hear, hear for misfits!
6. "Our mothers and fathers must rediscover their role as priests of the home. The parents bless their children, the food that nourishes them, and preach the most eloquent of sermons by the nobility of their conduct. They enable their family to celebrate the fasts and feasts of the year. The children, too, should learn to assume roles in the domestic church as soon as practical: they can help read the daily scripture passages, assist in the preparation of the foods proper to their tradition and tend the light before the icons." ---from In Our Family and Home by Father Romanos Russo of St. Ann's Melkite Greek-Catholic Church  (Originally Published in Catholic Near East) 

7. Thanks Saint Anthony! I found the bottle of Red Hot and the Christmas videos (go claymation!) before Lent starts! Now if you could just help me find my brand-new camera...I fear it got lost in the shuffle getting back from bachelor uncle's wedding...I am posting this here to humiliate myself and hope that it will be found.
more quick takes at Conversion Diary
visit my quasi- blog In Union with Rome for Eastern Catholic links

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

a cup of tea, a good book & a cozy dog

Life with my clan is back to normal with a week before I resume teaching my college English classes. It is the calm before the storm, and we'll enjoy the Christmas tree a while longer, thanks.
We hope 2013 has been happy and healthy for you so far!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meet Miro: computer geek, papa, Catholic

How long have you been a practicing Catholic?
Using the words of my favourite poet L.Cohen: "I was born like this I had no choice I was born with the gift of this perfect faith...", but then there were dark times where I was not really practicing... more reciting and going to services...
Care to share your conversion, reversion story?
My mom passed away a year ago after short but intensive fight with brain tumor. Since that time I was really wandering in the past - playing that horrible movie again and again. The hole in my heart was so big that I did not feel afraid of to accuse Lord of not being Almighty....with all that frustration and despair I became an easy bit of food for the devil: neglected my tasks at job, ignored my wife....really horrible person to be with...Finally it was my wife who sent me and email invitation to join 3-day long adoration in the University pastoral center in Bratislava with words: go there hope you find peace and wisdom to realize what you are doing wrong with your life
... so I did go there and was amazed....first evening after the Mass I went to the confession like never before in my life and also for the first time in my life I felt that God is with me and forgives everything... truly everything for all that I said I was sorry for what did with my life and his talents. the story goes on... is to be continued until I see my Redeemer at the gate of the eternal life...pray that it is not followed by any reversion anymore...
How does your faith inform your day-to-day life?
I wake up and give thanks to Lord for having short but good sleep :-)... then I jump into car and train and commute 100 km each morning and then 100 km back in the evening past 4 years. I give thanks for surviving  in the today's tough corporate-social-responsible-politically-correct battle for my soul and kiss kids goodnight and provide one more word of praise for having a job and having family that I can go back each night.
What is your greatest challenge in practicing your faith? But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.--Gal 5,16
favorite Bible verse? For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.--John 3,16
favorite Spiritual writing quotation? Maria Valtorta- Poem of the Man God - When God's helping it is easy to carry the world, when not even lifting of the flower is impossible for us...
favorite saint and why? John Maria Vianney - for his stubbornness in fighting the Evil...
do have have a living spiritual mentor? no, not yet...
education and job 
Master degree in Macroeconomics but for more then 10 years working in IT: current position is IT portfolio management expert for big player in oil industry...
favorite movie, book, music
I like French and Czech comedies, but also comedies with A.Sandler and W.Ferrell, book: N.Mailer: Gospel according to the Son, music: troubadours with guitar:already mentioned L.Cohen, B.Dylan, J.Cash (especially his last 6 albums American recordings) Cat Stevens and Jarek Nohavica. --- no time for hobbies sadly...
what is 'cool'/interesting about you?
you say... I used to long to be "cool" in my younger years, now I try to fit in my role(s): good husband, dad and co-worker... is that cool enough?

Thank you for sharing, Miro!
Click on the 'I'm a Catholic' label below for others in this series

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Blessed New Year to All

We celebrate St Basil today...here is some food for thought from the Holy Father...
O sinner, be not discouraged, but have recourse to Mary in all you necessities. Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will that she should help in every kind of necessity. 
The bread which you use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit. 

Let us raise ourselves from our fall and not give up hope as long as we are free from sin. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. 'Come, let us adore and prostrate ourselves and weep before him' (Psalm 95:6). The Word calls us to repentance, crying out: 'Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you' (Matthew 11:28). There is, then, a way to salvation if we are willing to follow it" 

Envy is a gnawing pain which springs from the success and prosperity of another; and this is the reason why the envious are never exempt from trouble and vexation. If an abundant harvest fills the granaries of a neighbor, if success crowns his efforts, the envious man is chagrined and sad. If one man can boast of prudence, talent, and eloquence; if another is rich, and is very liberal to the poor, if good works are praised by all around, the envious man is shocked and grieved. 
The envious, however, dare not speak; although envy makes them counterfeit gladness, their hearts are sore within. If you ask him what vexes him, he dare not tell the reason. It is not really the happiness of his friend that annoys him, neither is it his gaiety that makes him sad, nor is he sorry to see his friend prosper; but it is that he is persuaded that the prosperity of others is the cause of his misery. 

This is what the envious would be forced to acknowledge, if they spoke the truth sincerely; but because they dare not confess so shameful a sin, they, in secret, feed a sore which tortures them and eats away their rest. 

As the shadow ever accompanies the pedestrian when walking in the sun, so envy throws its shadow on those who are successful in the world. 
Blessings in 2013!
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