"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."---Dear Leo, I must disagree. Our happy family is unlike any I have ever known...
The Catholic life is full of beauty. God created us with many senses and the Catholic faith is wise in that it provides us with sensual realities to help us on the way to Heaven- it is more than pretty: Sight- icons (windows to Heaven), vestments, painted walls, a smile of greeting to a friend; Hearing- chant, babies crying in the pews and out of them, the priest and people in a dialogue of song, a child's first sung 'Lord have mercy'; Smell- beeswax candles burning, incense; Touch- holding a prayer book, taking the blessed bread at the end, kissing the icons, hugs and shaking hands after the Divine Liturgy; Taste- the Holy Eucharist and food to break the fast after the Divine Liturgy. The Church is more than pretty...
I'm happy when I see my girls participate in the Liturgy with no prompting from me- when to sit, when to stand, when to cross themselves. I'm happy when my husband can be home for dinner and happy that he is a priest who goes back to the hospital to annoint a dying patient. I am happy when new people come to visit our missions even when the majority of these visitors are simply looking for a temporary alternative to the Novos Ordo in the Roman rite- green at Pentecost, for example, will soon be too much for them. I am happy when a person from the old country visits even when they insist that a Protestant church is for them- it is so happy there. We are trying to build joy in the family because sometimes happiness is fleeting.
My girls had a few friends over to the townhouse complex swimming pool. I reminded them that the game 'Marco Polo' was forbidden by the HOA rules (first a warning, then a $50 fine, then a $100 fine, and on and on). So the kids started with Christopher...Columbus and then Amerigo...Vespucci. I laughed, but then we had a discussion of the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. The people neighboring the pool don't want to be bothered by the shouts and giggles of kids. While I think these sorts of people should read and meditate upon The Children of Men, I still don't want a fine. Last year's rotten pumpkin at All Hallow's Eve cost me $100.
After swimming, my big girls got it into their heads to invite one of the kids for a sleepover. I called my husband to see if it was okay with him and he said no. I knew he would be reluctant because sleeping over just isn't done in the old country, but he had a stronger reason. Having a non-family member sleep in our house would most likely violate 'safe environment' practices as they pertain to clergy. So a 'real' part of our life is that sleepovers won't be a part of it. But we made the best of it. The girls made spaghetti, and I brought out a cheesecake from the freezer. And priest-husband got to eat dinner and put up some curtains before he went back to work for a bit to annoint and comfort a dying man. His 'real' is very real.