Thursday, June 16, 2011

PrettyHappyFunnyReal- Our family

"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.


  1. It's true - a priest really can't risk having a kid sleep at his house. My husband the music director has to prepare Mass music with the school kids, but adamantly refuses to be alone with them. He makes one of the teachers stay with him at all times. Our culture is such that a mere accusation - even if it is proven to be false - can completely ruin your career or ministry. It must be hard for your kids to understand, though.

  2. jkm210- yes, but it is a little girls ended up being happy with the evening- I let them make the dinner as a consolation prize.

  3. "Christopher...Columbus and then Amerigo...Vespucci" HAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious! That just made my day.

  4. Safe Environment: One of the reasons I'm reluctant to work for the Catholic Church again. I suspect I violated it by drinking champagne at my own wedding since a few of my students were there.

  5. My husband is a church musician, too. When he teaches organ students, even though it's in the church with people going in and out, the kids' parents have to stay. This, despite the fact that he has passed the same background check and taken the same safe environment classes as the teachers at the school.

    jkm210--you are so right about false accusations. My uncle was a minister for an evangelical protestant group. He was accused of inappropriate conduct and ousted by his congregation, losing everything. The accuser recanted, but my uncle's reputation never recovered.

  6. Alice- hahaha- you probably did! I think it is yet another example of spirit of the law/letter of the law- but so many people are either clueless or evil when it comes to keeping kids safe. By the way- we have offiicially opted out of our kids doing the training thing- readers, should I reconsider now that I will have a 12 year old?

  7. Priest's Wife,
    Are you talking about some kind of VIRTUS for kids? I wouldn't do that with my children, but I was pleased with the program based on the Theology of the Body that my diocese wrote to take its place. I can email you the name of the diocese and the email for the correct office. I'm sure they'd share it with you if you asked.

  8. How do you handle things like having to say no to sleep overs, without getting too much into the nitty gritty of WHY? Your kids might understand a quick answer like "Because of Dad's job" but what about the other child?

    When I was a kid, sleep overs happened all of the time, but now I'm finding out that many people DON'T encourage them as the parents don't know each other as well as they used to, or differences in parenting styles, or the belief that families should always stay together. When I think about it more, I would be a little nervous to allow my kid to stay in someone else's home, unless I fully trusted them. My friend told me once that even though I had no children of my own, and that I don't know her kids that well (distance), she would let them sleep at my house in a heartbeat vs. the house of her daughter's classmate. All because she trusts me and has known me since we were freshmen in college. [She was my roommate for 3 years, so we've seen the good, bad & ugly with each other.] Her saying that makes a lot of sense, looking back.

  9. Alice- that would be great- my email is

  10. Rabbit- Priest-husband let me 'blame' him and his old country ways, so we didn't bring up the safe environment stuff. In any case, the girls had a great time at dinner and dessert and playing with their friend- sometimes short and sweet is better

  11. and the girls will have as 2 week sleepover with their girl cousin in August (of course, I will be upstairs)...we need to accept reality and then make compromises when possible (like allowing silly bands but not Disney channel)

  12. You're right...sometimes short & sweet is much better. I remember getting tired of "hosting" even as young as 8, wishing my friend would go home after I'd invited her to stay over!

    LOL about Disney Channel. That's one of my biggest fears of becoming a parent--taking them to the Mouse House. I do NOT understand the Disney allure...didn't really as a kid either.

  13. a related "Happy": A few weeks ago, our then 6-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome returned from receiving Holy Communion, face beaming, and said "I ate some Jesus! Mmmm Good!"

    We never taught her to talk about it in those terms. Though we try to teach about the Eucharist in terms she understands, it seems she came to that conclusion herself. Or more likely, it is a great grace.

    It brings to mind this passage:

    ( 1 Corinthians 27ff)

    But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong.

    And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are:

    That no flesh should glory in his sight.

  14. I adore your posts. Love them. I'm Catholic with a strong leaning toward EO and your posts show me how it works together. If there were a Byzantine Catholic church near me I'd be there. Not that my parish is bad-I love it too, but DL is amazing.

  15. A couple of times you have mentioned that you wish that those of us of the Latin rite would visit you more often or even join one of the parishes. Out of curiosity, how would that work? It seems like getting Latin rite children the Sacraments of Initiation would either involve attending both your parish and the Latin parish or mounds and mounds of paper work. Plus, my husband said we were ineligible to marry at the closest thing he has to a home parish because we're Latins and we're not living in a place where there are no nearby churches of our rite. (Now it's possible he didn't research this fully since we both wanted a Nuptial Mass with Gregorian Chant and organ music.) Since there aren't enough Byzantine Catholics of any one jurisdiction for a parish in our area, it's just a theoretical question for me but it might become a practical one if we moved somewhere less orthodox.

  16. Alice- thanks for the question...I would be surprised if I encouraged Latin-rite Catholics to change rite ('join' a parish)- but yes, I love visitors- so this means that jurisdiction remains Latin for those visitors. They would receieve sacraments such as baptism, first communion, confirmation at a Latin parish. It would be lots of paperwork to get permission for a Byzantine priest to perform baptism, but it is probably possible, and the baby would be registered at the nearest Latin parish

    We have a few 'permanent visitors' who have stopped being so involved because their son is taking first communion classes Latin-rite. They don't feel comfortable changing rites, but they plan on being more involved when the son receives first communion. It is complicated.

    I guess my constant 'come visit us' is because I came from a solid Catholic family, and I had no idea of the Eastern rites- I knew more about Judaism and Buddism from my Catholic high school than the rest of the Catholic world.

  17. Thanks for joining {phfr}!

    I think your funny is funny for your kids and sad for people who are bothered by kids making noise in a pool!! I am probably as strong an advocate for not being a bother to others (in church, at the store), but honestly!! what is happier than kids in a pool!

    And your real -- probably just as well. I always advise parents to have a "we don't do sleepovers" rule -- one that YOU can break when you want to without prejudice to the next time, when you say, "we don't do those." Just makes life easier!

    Sleepovers are almost always a bad idea, if only that no one is sleeping!! :)

  18. This reminds me of a question I keep forgetting to ask you!

    When you attend a Latin Rite Mass, obviously your big girls receive communion since they are of an age where it wouldn't look funny, but what about your younger 2? Do you have them receive or just sit out since it might cause a ruckus during communion?

    DH told me that Byz kids can receive at a Latin Mass, even though the opposite isn't true. On the rare event when visiting children attend our Liturgies, I can always tell who is Byz and who isn't...the priest just touches the non-Byz children on the head briefly for a prayer. (which is similar to what the priest did when we went to a Roman church, except it was done after communion, and very distracting...)

  19. Rabbit- good question! really the only time we will be at a Roman-rite Mass with the little ones is at the hospital. I usually take them out by the time for Eucharist. Now, the priest is my husband, so that it isn't the problem. We have never really practiced with an unconsecrated host, and I wouldn't want the 4 year old boy to be confused. The only other time we will be at a Roman rite Mass is during the week before and of Nutcracker that can get crazy- but husband will take little ones to our church and have parishioners/god parent-types to look after them---it will probably be a future post, but if I decide that the little behavior isn't up to snuff, I will take them out before Eucharist or the boy will throw another fit.

  20. Thanks for answering my question. I had a realization the other day that when we have kids, we probably will not be able to attend Liturgy every week when they are younger (although you do it, so to paraphrase Auntie Leila, if you can do it, so can I). While the current pastor of the closest Roman Rite church is actually a Syrian Catholic with birituality (is that even a word?), and would be used to seeing young children receiving communion, there's no guarantee he'll be at this parish forever.

    It would make going to church fun for a bit, to see the old ladies freaking out at an infant receiving a tiny piece of host. Although, I bet a solely Roman Rite priest would freak out too! Unless, of course, we met with him when our child was first chrismated, explaining that we'd like him/her to receive as well. But there might be ignorance or pressure to join that church...sigh.

    The things I worry about when they aren't even present.

    I just noticed this in one of your comments:
    I guess my constant 'come visit us' is because I came from a solid Catholic family, and I had no idea of the Eastern rites- I knew more about Judaism and Buddism from my Catholic high school than the rest of the Catholic world.

    This made me laugh, especially when you look at who I married (and you as well)!


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