Friday, May 31, 2013

15 years ago today: A New Catholic Family

Happy Anniversary to us! 
We were blessed to be married on Pentecost Sunday in the year of the Holy Spirit. This is my parents' Roman-rite parish, a beautiful country church with its original statuary; we were blessed to have both the marriage rite and the Divine Liturgy that day. Bishop John-Michael Botean along with Fathers Frank Knusel and Kurt Burnett presided. 
Our deacon just celebrated 50 years of marriage, so 15 years seems like nothing. Still, there are many stories to be told even with 'only' 15 years. God's grace is abundant!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

You Know You're a Priest's Kid When...

...the oldest lady in church causes you great pain and you must grin and bear it!

We Romanian Byzantine Catholics commemorate the deceased a lot. We have the funerals (plural because there is more than one service) when the person dies and then we pray for them again at six months and a year. After a year, the deceased person is remembered with the rest of that family's departed with a yearly parastas.

The parastas is a simple ceremony before the final blessing with prayers, songs, bread (normally a challah-type loaf), and wine. At the front of the church and in front of the icon screen, a few men will raise the small table with the bread and wine, bobbing it gently up and down in time to the chant. While singing, the people put their hands on each others' shoulders. It is a beautiful ritual.

One of our jobs as clergy family is to help the bereaved have a beautiful ceremony. This means that we need to swallow our emotions and sing the songs boldly because the family will probably not be able to sing much as they are thinking of their loved ones. 

So we sang and the people came closer to the parastas table. They put their hands on each others' shoulders. The wife of the remembered put her small, withered, 95-year old hand on Girl #1's shoulder. But the old lady needed the support of her cane as well. She shifted her cane until it came to rest on top of Girl #2's foot. Girl did nothing, afraid that the old lady would fall if she moved. And she kept the cane there for the duration of the ceremony, occasionally resting her weight fully on the cane. 

Girl #2 joked that it was good that Mrs. P is very light. 

It wasn't until our old lady was invited to pour a bit of wine over the bread- in the shape of a cross while the priest says "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness therein"- that Girl #2 was free on the cane impaling her foot.

Sometimes this is what we do as clergy family. We support our church family members and sometimes we suffer a bit for it. We try not to be doormats, but Girl #2 wanted to support Mrs. P in her grief without embarrassing her in her age and frailty. And since this is a semi-anonymous blog, I thought I could be proud of my daughter's actions and share without embarrassing our Mrs P. Eternal memory to Mr. P!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pentecost Gospel- Come, Holy Spirit!

 image from maronite-heritage.com
On the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.”

But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 7:37-52; 8:12)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

7 quick takes- I'm hungry! edition

Today is my last evening of teaching classes, so perhaps we will get back to normal in terms of dinner.

1. Every evening is different, so I rely on my crock pot and rice cooker. The other day, I was running out the door and I realized that my husband would be home in an hour and hungry from not eating lunch. I put brown rice, coconut milk, skinless chicken thighs and onions in the rice cooker....covered it with water and added garlic powder and some dried herbs. It was pretty good!

2. A very quick soup...I put about 3 cups of pre-sliced crimini mushrooms in a saucepan, covered it with water and let it cook down a bit. Then, I added 2 diced zucchini and let it cook a bit more. Then, add some garlic and onion powder along with some salt and no-salt seasoning mix. I had some half and half in the fridge, so I put that in to make a sort of cream of vegetable soup. Put chopped fresh tomatoes on the top of the bowl. It was good and took about 5 minutes.

3. Most of the food I make doesn't just start life in a crock pot. I usually have to brown some onions first, but I still like to clean up and then let the dish stay warm in the slow cooker until whoever is home for dinner gets home. Last night we had potatoes, three-color bell peppers, onions and some browned pork sausage from the crock pot. It was pretty good. It was missing some freshly chopped Italian parsley, however.

4. If you are going to live out of rice cookers and crock pots like I do, please have a fresh salad as well. In the old country, they have lettuce and tomato at every meal during the summer. In the winter, one must do with a fresh cabbage salad. It certainly lightens up a meal!

5. I am such a victim of marketing. I didn't know what quinoa or chia was three years ago, now we consume and enjoy both products quite frequently.

6. Are you a paleo eater? Are you a fruit and grain only vegan? Are you gluten-free? Do you eat right for your type? Are you sensitive to lactose? I am trying to eat well. It's not going well. All these conflicting messages are too much. I have some natural remedies for my lupus and Sjogren's, but they conflict with other ways to eat. And then there is the fasting requirements and 'ancient' ways of fasting to conform to. It's all too much. This is the ultimate 'first world problem.' So- I will just do the mixed-up diet- whole grains, no fast food, meatless on Wednesdays and Fridays in non-fasting seasons. That's all I got.

7. I haven't written a pretty happy funny real in a long time...but you have to run over and read their mojito recipe. I am superbly jealous of their lilacs, but they deserve them and the sun after a long winter- all the better to drink a mojito!
If you have a super quick 5 minute prep meal, please share in the comments!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

be merciful as the Heavenly Father is merciful


"I also will pray. I will beg our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ that he condemn this man to the deepest darkest pit of hell. I will beg Saint Michael Lord of the Host to intercede to keep this most demonic man in external pain and damnation separate from union with our Lord. We are all sinners, and I am one of the worst, but the Church teaches us there are different types of sin. This man had so many times to change course. Father Emmons prayed with an entire prayer circle for this demonic witch-doctor for over 15 years, yet for more than 15 years heaven had to watch the souls of the unbaptized innocents torn apart. 
This man kept the severed feet of babies on his desk, for Pete's sake. 
I will pray, I will pray hard for the external damnation of Gosnell and all murderers of the innocents like him, who right now, after complete knowledge of what just happened are tearing apart babies as we speak!"
This is a comment from 'The Bard' at Creative Minority Report, responding to a post which stated that Gosnell will receive life in prison instead of the death penalty for his crimes against the young. I was shocked that someone would take credit for such a comment and link their blog to it. 
I am not reflecting today on whether Gosnell should have received the death penalty. Abby Johnson doesn't feel that Gosnell should receive the death penalty while 'The Crescat' feels that society has the right to call for this.
I am not a philosopher able to answer the question "can God make a stone too large for Him to lift up?" but St Michael will not, cannot intercede to aid someone in going to hell. 
Pro-lifers are hurting; they hurt whenever one of these horrible abortion stories is on their newsfeed. Pro-lifers are weary of praying and working for the millions of hurting, exploited women. They sometimes cry themselves to sleep, mourning the loss of that baby they couldn't save that day at the abortion clinic. 
But we must be merciful as our Father is merciful. We must emulate Jesus and pray "not my will, but Your will be done." God wills that all will beg for His mercy. We have no right to pray for someone's eternal damnation. As a convert, one of the aspects of the Catholic Church that I love is that she declares persons saints- basically that person is officially in heaven. The Church does not officially declare anything about the state of the soul of a sinner. The Church lives in hope. Shouldn't we do the same? 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Monday in May...

After a busy weekend, this was yesterday for my busy husband and me, a supposed stay at home, homeschooling mama. It was a typical morning- then, with baby girl tagging along...a normal 'homeschooling' Monday
yes, yes Inigo Montoya- I know. We cannot call ourselves 'carschoolers,' either.  Contemporary Christian music probably wouldn't be accepted as educational by our charter school.
12:45- take big girls to writing class, driving from city 1 to city 2 (10 miles)
1:30- pick up boy at Kindergarten, driving from city 2 to city 1
Then- go home, throw brown rice and uncooked chicken thighs in rice cooker (plus coconut milk, onions, garlic and spices) with fresh green beans ready to be cooked in a sauce pan
2:30- pick up girls at writing class in city 2, take them to ballet (tech and pointe) in city 1
3:30- home again...tidy up, play with dog, change baby girl's clothes yet again
5:30- papa drives from his hospital in city 2 to us in city 1 & gets the little kids; I drive to teach my class in city 3 (15 miles)(Cities 1, 2 and 3 are a sort of triangle...)
6:00- papa picks up girls and brings them to their choir, then he drives the little kids to a friend in city 2 so he can go to church and hear confessions; I start my class
7:15- I drive from city 3 to city 1 to pick up the big girls from choir
7:30- or so- we drive from city 1 to city 2 to pick up the little kids, then we drive back home. Little ones are put to bed. Big girls hurriedly do the dishes so they can watch a Hulu-cast of Green Acres. They set up Monopoly board to play a speedy version of the game in case their dad gets home in time for fun and games.
8:30- Papa is home from city 2- there weren't as many people as usual- I was planning on blogging something profound and well-researched until 10...sorry readers...it is what it is
Enough about us- How was your Monday and Tuesday?

strange, random, late.... 7 Quick Takes

It is so silly, pathetic and selfish to think, "I'm all alone! There's nobody beside meeeee!" (yes- cue the donkey from Shrek) But I think that that is me. because I am weird. My priest's wife-ness only contributes to my weirdness; it wasn't the cause of my weirdness.

1.Did you know that I once took the night train alone from Vienna to Paris? I stupidly chose an empty compartment, and I was soon joined by three men. They weren't speaking a Latin, Slavic or Germanic language, so I settled on them being Turkish. great. It was not Before Sunrise. In fact, I told them, in English, to sit at the opposite end of the compartment instead of right next to me. I threw a Satsuma mandarin in that direction for emphasis.

2. My guardian angel (named Felicity) was working overtime while I lived in Europe. I also traveled alone from Vienna to Rome. I walked around for about six hours and then got on the next train north. I didn't make much money teaching English, but I did have a Eurail pass. 

3. If you are in Krakow, Poland with just a few zloty, do you buy a piece of pizza or some awesome dark green leather mittens? The mittens, of course! And what, you ask, are zloty? Well- when I was in Krakow, they were going through the transition from old to new zloty (Polish currency). I made my money in Austrian schillings, but still though of money in terms of US dollars- I think you are truly an ex-pat when you no longer do currency translation....so anyways....I had 10 dollars which was 100 Austrian schillings which was 1000 new zloty which was 10000 old zloty....but the mittens were really 6500 new zloty and I got change in old zloty...confused yet? I was!

4. See how weird that was? I was going to give examples of how I don't fit in with anybody...and then I start doing a European adventures quick takes!...

5. I love that we have only an 18 inch computer monitor to watch videos and shows on-line. It lets me 'get away' with watching some videos that I couldn't/wouldn't watch if we had a big screen television. If something gets too violent (like the latest Die Hard- yuck), I can just turn my head a little! But for know, we are enjoying the second season of Downton Abbey. Lovely!

6. Do you know anybody who was a clergy kid (Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish....anybody!) who didn't grow up to be awful/atheistic/bitter? I feel like our life is going swimmingly and then I get smacked in the face with someone's experience (on-line info) that, for now, does not match ours. 

7. ...and it took a week to do six random quick takes...I think it is time to re-evaluate this blogging thing...and that's okay
I'm too late to link up- but go to Conversion Diary for better quick takes...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

if you need homeschooling inspiration....


"I figured out that in doing this homeschool thing, and doing it the way that we do it, it’s not my voice that predominates.  It’s theirs.  I’m here.  I’m the authority, I yell random threats and have the power to dispense or withhold  Screen Time,  but more than that, I’m the facilitator – and oh, it makes me laugh to say that, considering how much contempt I’ve heaped upon the word “facilitator” over the years, but there it is.
 I’ve learned that as a homeschooling parent, my job is not to dominate.  My job is to point.  To turn my back on the ghosts,  say what I have to say,  and then to shut up… and point."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

..."If you only knew how many things I want to say and don't"...--- 7 Quick Takes

That's my life...in the words of the world's most famous redhead Anne Shirley of Green Gables (actually the writer who brought her to life, L.M.Montgomery). 

--- Sometimes I want to write about food on this blog and how my week is like a long episode of 'Chopped,' trying to find uses for all the vegetables in my CSA box. But then I realize that the world does not need another 'quick rice stuffed pepper' recipe.

--- The big problem with confession is also one of the best things about it: the seal. The priest cannot discuss anything that you said or confessed- which is beyond cool. The problem? People can talk about what the priest said in the confessional- or even fabricate words he never said. 

--- I'm in a quandary, and I'm probably a hypocrite. My children and I listen to the Contemporary Christian radio station 'Air One' all day when we aren't listening to the public classical station. I call it 'Protestant' because none of the featured artists are Catholic. Their prayer line is staffed with Protestant pastors. They are having their pledge drive, and I haven't given anything. I am torn. They don't play Catholic artists (yes- they exist). Part of the money goes towards their prayer line; this is a good thing and helps many people, but I don't know if it is right to financially support the faith ministry that many times contradicts my own. Any sage advice?

--- The only Orthodox Christians that I know personally are those who are willing to visit our Byzantine Catholic missions. So it is shocking how much hatred there is out there regarding us. We are called 'papists' and 'uniates,' like being unified is something to be ashamed of. I suppose they expect us to be Orthodox not in union with Rome, ignoring Jesus' prayer that 'all may be one' (John 17) and ignoring that Peter was the rock on which the Church is built (Matthew 16). Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were the original patriarchs. None should be ignored or disrespected. By saying 'papist' like you swallowed a lemon, it isn't very Christian, no? I suppose I should be a grown-up and stop looking at the memes 'Hyperdox Herman' posts on Facebook and focus on the Orthodox Christians who I actually know and who are kind even though I am a Uniate. 

--- It has been tough lately in the news- the Gosnell trial, the Boston Marathon bombings, the horrible industrial accident in West, Texas. President Obama's visit to Planned Parenthood ("God bless Planned Parenthood") makes me really sad. I'm sad not because one man is happily pro-abortion even when 40% of his race is aborted, I'm sad that the majority of the country knew about these issues and how he would deal with them and happily re-elected him. 

--- Two weeks ago, there was a little skirmish in the little part of the blogosphere I frequent- children being present at church and possibly making noises. I didn't blog about it- but you can start with red cardigan's post if you are interested...you can probably suspect that I agree with her opinion. Children are the Church just like middle-aged and elderly people- of course, if the child is truly screaming, take him or her out for a while.

--- one of my 'pet peeves' with the Church- the use of the terms 'permanent deacon' and 'transitional deacon'- and the fact that in many dioceses seminarians who are planning (and frequently do not finish seminary) to remain celibate and go on to the priesthood can wear a clerical collar but married deacons cannot. I think that it is a very sad thing that so many clergy and religious are in 'disguise.' Some sisters give up their habit to be 'liberal,' but some did so that they would not turn off normal people. And the same thing goes for married deacons. But this idea makes people shocked when they see clergy in their proper garb. I say, let's do the opposite! All sisters in some sort of habit! All deacons in some sort of clerical garb! (and no- no one will come and start confessing...they will at least ask if you are a Catholic priest with faculties to hear confession in that diocese...and then you can explain) All priests in their clerical collar...make even a cassock! There is no scandal if the cleric is doing nothing wrong...

for happier quick takes, visit conversion diary!

Pretty Happy Funny Real Ballet Amateurs

Girl 1 and Girl 2 will perform with an amateur dance troupe this weekend and will have their debut on stage en pointe. For dancers, this is the culmination of ten years of work, performing en pointe. It is bitter sweet. They are dancing under the instruction of their first teacher when they were 3 and 4. They were able to actually choreograph the dance themselves. 
The bitter? Not so bitter, but their actual dance school is not so welcoming to imperfection. They are only taking three hours a week there in tech and pointe.  This three-hour contemporary class and a two hour theater dance class is much more enjoyable and the dancers are all welcoming. 
This is perfect for homeschoolers. They don't really understand why people can hate them for not worshiping the band One Direction...last year they were hated (whispers in the bathrooms, silence when they passed by, not getting invited to the bagel place) for not worshiping Justin Beiber....next year, who knows? It is exhausting not keeping up with the normal people. 
the performance is called 'Return to Neverland'- they chose their costuming
So their life is pretty, happy, funny, real...I am so happy that my part-time college teaching position is winding down for the semester. I finish in two weeks and I will have a break until the middle of August. Yipppee! Even though I only teach ten hours a week, my mind is sometimes there, in the classroom, all day, so I am looking forward to focusing only on family with this glorious quotation as my inspiration: 
“To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.” G.K. Chesterton, of course

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Women Behaving Badly: Jesus & the Catholic Church love you; Come home!

--- A female student at Carnegie Mellon dressed up as the Pope from the waist up and naked from the waist down passed out condoms to other students at an annual art school parade. more at Creative Minority Report
--- Four militants, naked from the waist up, doused a Belgian bishop with water, displaying signs in English about 'homophobia.' (please click here to read the official Catholic position on homosexual activity)
--- A ex-Carmelite nun from Kentucky, 70 years old, disregarded the "Church's octogenarians' teachings" and was ordained by a woman bishop in a United Church of Christ building.  
--- The media is angry that Pope Francis is planning on reforming the LCWR as Pope Benedict wanted. This video is of the latest keynote speaker at their conference: Barbara Marx Hubbard. It does seem that if they welcome her, a non-Christian feminist, to lead their conference, they do want to "move beyond the Church and beyond Jesus."
I know that the people in the Catholic Church are imperfect. The Church is, after all, a hospital for sinners. These sinners even include the clergy. When I see Catholic women simulate ordinations, I feel sad because I believe they have been hurt by some kind of clericalism and want to regain some of the power that was taken from them or lorded over them. If they wanted to become clerics and were honest about how much of their theology conflicted with the Catholic Church's, they would study to become a Protestant pastor or even a Unitarian minister. 

Jesus was radical in His treatment of women. They studied with Him. They ate with Him. He touched them; Orthodox Jewish rabbis even in the present day will not touch a woman who is not his wife. 2,000 years ago, there were pagan priestesses. Jesus elevated women, but He did not make them apostles. This is the Catholic teaching. There are many non-Catholic denominations that do not agree. 

And it is naive to hope that the world would follow the Church's sexual teachings...but would it be so bad to wait until marriage? Did you know that 15 year olds can get the morning after pill over the counter now? Don't tell me that it will not benefit sex traffickers! Don't tell me that it will not benefit older 'boyfriends' who want to be free to have sex with young girls! What about the health risks? No one, beyond the Church actually, seems to care. The Church is filled with sinners, but the Church is LOVE. Jesus loves all His children; the Church teaches that Jesus does not love sexual acts outside of marriage between a man and a woman. Jesus was always merciful; He never told them to remain as they were. 

What do you think? Catholic readers, can you accept Church teachings? Everyone, which teaching of Jesus' is most meaningful to you?

How to be a Good Parishioner--- from a Ukrainian Priest in London

I'm publishing an excerpt from this new blog not because I am gobsmacked jealous that he lives in London, but he has a lot of wisdom to share:

"1. Support the Liturgy. Little in terms of parish life is more central than the Liturgy. The purpose of the community coming together is to glorify God by seeking Him out in the Holy Mysteries, NOT the other way around. The more we realise this and appropriate it to ourselves, the more we will gain from the Church on a personal, spiritual, communal, and mystical level. In this respect, if the Liturgy is being celebrated in accordance with the Church’s instructions, and if it is being celebrated in a spirit of prayer and devotion, then one becomes entirely able to abandon oneself to the sacred action; if, on the other hand, the Liturgy is too subjective; too much the product of the priest’s personal sensibilities; too much the result of pressure from one special interest within the parish community, then it ceases to be for the benefit of all and a genuine source of nourishment derived from the Church. Indeed, this point cannot be overstated. Allowing the ancient liturgies of the Church to be hijacked by any one person’s, or group’s, interest, is to tear it from its origins and to alienate not only many of those visibly present and participating, but also our spiritual and literal ancestors, whose voices need to be heard if ours is to be a genuine ‘communion of saints’. So, ask yourself not to what degree the Liturgy is familiar to you, or to what degree it reflects what you want it to; ask yourself, rather, how faithful it is to tradition, and if it is being celebrated in sincerity and truth. Then ask what you can do to make that happen."
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