Monday, August 29, 2011

1stAnniversary or You Know You're a Blogger When...

Moi- a person who in her entire life never, ever was consistent with a journal is proud (but not in a deadly-sin way) to be celebrating her first blog-anniversary. I refuse to say "blogoversary" just as my younger sister won't say "jeggings." While I am trying to remain anonymous and charitable- so sometimes this blog is rather milquetoast compared to the gritty reality we are sometimes living- it has been an interesting record which I hope to continue.  
Sometimes I feel as if I have nothing to say- especially because I have a self-censor mode. I really don't believe in letting all of my personal business be out there for the entire world (those interested enough to click on my blog) to read about. Do you really want to know that Big Baby Boy had a fever last night? Probably not, but that was our life last night.

So I thought I would re-read the first few blog posts from last year. They are a bit bleak, but they stand true and I don't disown anything I have written. But what was my stated purpose in starting this blog- besides being a personal journal of sorts so I can remember bits and pieces of the past? I suppose I wanted (and still want) readers to know more about the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church and to realize that their experience of the Church is not the only valid and holy way. I've read that many people believe that history is what has happened in their lifetime. We all need to understand that Church history is much richer than our personal experiences.

During our vacation to my parents, I showed my mother the few really awful comments that I never published but have saved in my spam folder. I suppose they are still there to keep me humble and careful with my dealings on the computer. One lesson learned is this: I am one person who is working out her salvation with fear and trembling who relies on the glorious mercy of God. I am not going to change anyone's opinions. Perhaps occasionally, I can be used by God for good things. But all the glory goes to Him.

first 2 comics are from 101 excuses not to write; last comic is from  

The Beheading of St John the Baptist

The glorious beheading of the Forerunner became part of God's saving plan, that the Coming of the Savior might be announced even to those in the Abyss. Weep then, Herodias, that you asked for a wicked murder, because you loved neither God's law nor eternal life, but only the passing pleasure of life.

Kontakion for August 29th

Friday, August 26, 2011

7 VeryQuickTakes

1. Thanks to Jen at conversion diary for hosting these quick takes and also her blog on internet calmness/hurt feelings/craziness. Who knew I would have a chance to use what I learned from that post this very week!

2. Things that make you go hmm....a college where an entire program is comprised of students that qualify for the fee waiver, fee waivers taking two weeks to process, classes being cancelled for low numbers a half week into the semester. We didn't stand a chance.

3. Okay- I need to copy a friend of mine in frugality. She just made muffins with leftover breakfast cereal and applesauce...this just might be the semester of everything soup and everything muffins! But if my muffins smell as good as hers, that is quite alright.

4. For a very fun snack break, eat apple slices and hummus toast while listening to Bare Naked Ladies' cd Snack Time.

5. How is it that one rotten potato can stink so horridly? We have been cleaning out the garage/family room/school room/etc room in preparation for the school year, and I found one lone potato rotting in the far corner. Ugh. This is not on the same level as Jen F's scorpions, but still. It was truly awful.

6. Clue that your 4-year old needs to get de-sensitized a bit: hiding in terror during the middle of the book Where the Wild Things Are. And then sobbing that Max shouldn't have gone away. I had to tell him that the land of the wild things was Max's dream/imagination and that he really never left his room. Even though Boy goes off to preschool three mornings a week with nary a whimper, the thought of sailing to the land of wild things without mommy was just too much for him to process. Personally, the rythmn of the words in that book are amazing, so simple yet so musical.

7. About homeschooling: most families seem to start with a 'school at home' style and then loosen up over the years. We need to do exactly the opposite. I am going to try and do some formal presentation of the material (imagine that!) and see where that takes us. Our charter school doesn't officially start until the first Tuesday in September, but we have been dipping our baby toes into the water for a little over a week. And that school room still needs a lot of work. As I have complained to one of my sisters- if I were Type B, my house would be suffiently clean and organized. But I think I am the worst type- a low-energy Type A who gets amazing amounts of peace by a clean and organized home. So- I suppose I just have to do it and figure out a way to combine storage, pantry, school and family rooms. At least there are no more rotten potatoes in that space!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Too Real

Today is 'Pretty Happy Funny Real' at Like Mother Like Daughter. I was going to post something pretty and funny and happy. Really I was. But last night, I was informed that both of my college classes were cancelled (and most of the classes in my department) and so I am officially unemployed outside of the home for this semester. Any kind of financial challenge makes me panic a bit. Yes, I am going to put my anxiety at God's altar, soak more beans, ask for partial scholarships for the kids' activities and turn off the lights. We are so blessed in many ways; it will be okay.

After I got laid off last night, priest-husband told me about something far worse, a real tragedy. The 24-year old nephew of a parishioner was closing up at a burger place where he worked. A co-worker knocked on the front door, and he let him in along with two friends. The trio proceeded to rob the place and killed the three people in the restaurant including the nephew, Jesse. Now our parishioner is planning how to get across the country in time for the funeral.

Why do bad things happen to good people? I have never been very good at answering that question. I usually never say much of anything to someone who has experienced loss. I just make a meal and sit there with them if they'll let me. I do 'buy into' the Catholic notion of redemptive suffering, but I think that comes a long time after the initial shock of a loss. So all I can contribute is the words of comfort brought by the Church:

O God of spirits, and of all flesh, You have trampled death and made the devil powerless, and have given life to Your world. May You, Yourself, Lord, give rest to the soul of Your servant who has fallen asleep, in a place of brightness, a place of refreshment, a place of repose; where all suffering, sorrow, and sighing have fled away.
Since You are a good and loving God, pardon every transgression which he has committed, whether by word, or deed, or thought; for there is no one who lives yet does not sin, for only You are without sin. Your righteousness is an eternal righteousness, and Your word is truth.
For You are the resurrection, the life, and the repose of your servant who has fallen asleep, O Christ our God, and to You we give glory, together with Your Father, Who is without beginning, and Your most holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

May He Who rose from the dead, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His most pure mother, of the holy, glorious, and all-laudable apostles, of our pious and God-bearing fathers, and of all the saints, place the soul of His departed servant in the mansions of the righteous. May He grant him repose in the bosom of Abraham and number him with the righteous; and may He have mercy on us, for He is good and loves mankind.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What I learned on my Summer Vacation

I was blessed to spend 2 weeks with my side of the family while priest-husband stayed behind and worked. While we visited with everybody, I stayed at the home of one of my sisters; she has more kids than I even though her oldest is three years younger than my oldest. She is busy- but brilliant. Here are some random things I learned from her over the two weeks. I'll stick with practical tips so I don't get too personal on this 'anonymous' blog (and yes, most of my tips revolve around food- ah, the life of a mommy):

--- Bring snacks, lunch and water to any and all park days and other outside amusements. Children need to realize, if they eat food from home at the park, they can go on 2 or 3 carousel rides instead of one. 

--- Split up the kids- sometimes. We went to an amusement park with practically all the kids (well- missing 2 families). I kept the four oldest kids with me until closing along with my littlest so that the little kids could go home before they had melt-downs. These four big kids were the only ones to get unlimited ride bracelets (that they paid for) as it would have been too much and too expensive for all those littles. They never were the wiser.

--- Don't split up the kids- sometimes. While it can be fun for big kids to do big kid stuff, sometimes they need to canter to the little kids' level. During the two weeks, we had a few 'love bug classes' where the big kids taught some sort of pre-school to the littles. But they were in the basement, so I don't know  exactly how much they learned. Also- all media is at a very small child's level. Just because the 12-year old can watch Narnia doesn't mean that the three-year old can. My sister deals with her age spread in her family by simply not watching much of any videos. Perhaps in the future the older ones will have a later bedtime when they can watch something. But I suspect they are too busy with creative activities.

--- Buy in bulk. I already buy in bulk a little bit, but my sister is very good at it. Her tip to make sure that a bulk buy isn't wasted (which defeats the purpose)- make sure you cook from that bulk item twice a week. So if you buy a hundred pound bag of beans, you need to make beans twice a week. She also always has dried milk on hand so she never has to run to the market for only milk. I have got to copy her on that! Stir in a little vanilla, the kids will never know the difference.

--- Follow Leila's 'save a step' cooking ideas. My sister (who steered me to Like Mother, Like Daughter) uses all her leftovers- either for husband's lunch the next day or for 're-purposing' for another meal. In two weeks, I don't think she threw out any food. Occasionally, this might mean making an 'everything soup.' Maybe it was because I didn't cook it, but my kids gobbled up her egg-onion-summer squash-potato sautee.

--- Have designated snack times. Why oh why don't I do this? My kids assume that if I am in the kitchen, I am available for restaurant service. My sister has snack time at 10. And there is an actual snack that they can have- not a full menu. If I were (notice my use of the subjunctive) a well-organized person, this would be a good way to balance their meals. If they have a high-carb breakfast like oatmeal or cold cereal, then the snack would be protein (cold chicken from last night, hummus and carrots, salami/cheese/tomatoes). If their breakfast was eggs, then snack could be fruit.

--- Get the kids- and yourself- outside. This can be a real challenge living in an urban envirnoment, so I'll have to get better at forcing the issue. We do have a lot of beautiful parks. And we'll just have to continue gardening as much as we can on our patio.

--- Don't forget farmers' markets. As I am always writing about not buying from China and trying to buy organic and fair trade as much as possible, I can't forget our local farmers. We are very blessed in this area.

--- Have paper and markers available for the kids at all times. And don't forget the books, lots of books. I have used my sister as inspiration with the paper/marker business. I had my son draw while I got his yogurt and cereal ready. Who knew? He was sitting there very peacefully. A new day has dawned.

As you can see, I have been blessed with a sister that I can get a lot of inspiration from- and these tips are just the food-type inspiration. I won't even go into the way she inspires me to be a better daughter of God! Every sibling I have is special and inspiring in different- and sometimes the same- ways. One sibling changed my life by suggesting I take down a door (long story- but it is true). Dear reader, I hope that you have a sibling or a friend that inspires you to greater heights like my family does to me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

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

  • your husband leaves at 7 AM to do annointings at the hospital Sunday morning and comes home just in time to drive to church.
  • you are the chauffer so that your priest-husband can go over his homily and be available for phone calls. You pray your 'rosary for the bishop' between calls.
  • your kids ask why they are listening to monk-sung Russian Orthodox chant during breakfast....because it is very relaxing
  • you have to just grit your teeth when someone asks to take your baby/give a lollipop to your 4-year old who is behaving/talk fashion with your 12-year old while the distribution of the Holy Eucharist is happening.
  • you have to smile when others are so kind and loving to you and your children (some parishioners got me a Kindle for my birthday!)
  • your voice hurts a little after the Divine Liturgy because the cantor was stuck in traffic and you had to take over until the cantor got there.
  • you have to shout at yourself internally to stop making plans for church while the Divine Liturgy is happening.
  • you eat 'only' three cabbage rolls after the memorial service so you have time to greet everyone- and you try to get over your shyness so you don't appear rude to your generally sanguine parishioners.
  • you get home at 8:00 PM on Sunday after a full day of church and fellowship with some sort-of parishioners a little peeved that you didn't stay at their home for late-evening hamburgers. It doesn't matter that you begin your part-time college teaching job the next day or that the boy was throwing up yesterday; you should be at their service just in case they decide to be actual parishioners. You marvel at the one-year old walking and sort of talking. The last time you saw him was at his infant baptism.
  • you read blog posts critical of married priests (the latest I saw was at Creative Minority Report, a blog I like a lot) and take it personally. Never, ever do as I do and read the commments. Those are always worse than the actual blog post
Anonymous said... I once went to a talk given by a married priest who was refreshingly honest. He said that he doesn't work on weekends or after 8PM. If you call his house after that time you better be almost dead because his wife will be mad.

All I have to say to 'anonymous' is WHAT?! You MUST be a troll! Putting everything aside- vocation, small 't' tradition, practical matters, etc- WHAT priest doesn't work weekends or take phone calls after 8? Even as a job...this is like a person being educated for and asking to be a party planner. Then, this person refuses to work weekends and nights. So- all the parties need to be on weekdays during the day? What utter nonsense! In the Eastern churches with the priesthood and the Roman-rite with the diaconate, the wives are part of the equation and realize his schedule might be different than the past when he had a 'normal' job.
Of course, occassionally one might find a crazy wife that changes the 'rules' on her husband just as there are some celibate priests making vows of poverty who own small airplanes. A rotten apple doesn't have to ruin the entire barrel if it is thrown out quickly enough. With a 'bad' priest's or deacon's wife, (I have never met one- just wives with different ministries and talents and maybe a few shy ones) counseling is in order. And a priest who is married does have the dual challenges of being the head of his domestic church (as any husband) and of his parish. A lot of balance and juggling is needed.
Personally, I don't see where this life could be successful on both fronts (domestic church and parish church) if the husband and wife are not of the same rite. Mixed marriages (Orthodox/Catholic, Byzantine Catholic/Roman-rite Catholic) can be tricky enough, but if my husband were consumed with his parish and the kids and I were always at the local Roman-rite parish, I do see where there would be a problem of unity and also not having any family time together.
As it is, the big girls help with child care at Bible study and they are part of the choir. I hope that the little guy will be at the altar next year. We are always looking for ways to combine family and church time. Because we are at church with priest-husband, the only time we aren't participating in his ministry is during counseling and confession times and his hospital work because we have school to do! We also try to be a part of the hospital by going to Mass there and the girls singing in the hospital talent show and the like. I think we actually spend a lot of time together- much more than a surgeon's family...but then I think that the 'a priest can never be a married man because he won't balance his responsibilities- someone will lose out' argument is a straw argument. I don't think that many people would caution their daughter from marrying a surgeon. He might never be home (and the family cannot be in the surgery theater of course like a priest's family is in the church), but he will bring home a lot of money to soften the blow.

But in any case: another commenter posted this and is much more realistic and thoughtful: Now, MAYBE this turns out to be an argument in favor of the discipline of celibacy if this guy is having trouble meeting his PRE-EXISTING sacramental commitment to his family while also meeting his sacramental commitment to the priesthood. Or MAYBE it's just an argument against this doofus ever being admitted to the Catholic priesthood and the Church instead finding people in this situation who can do a better job of multi-tasking. In the end, as others have stated, celibacy is a matter of discipline, and is NOT the teaching of "the Church" for all priests.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

still another replay

"Maria" was adopted internationally, her new parents knowing that she would need a heart surgery. Their only regret was that they couldn't speed up the paperwork so they could start their life with her sooner. She practices her violin along with the other children in the family.  "Lili" is the well-loved middle child and functions almost at a level of her much younger sister.  She participates in a homeschooling drama group and will be in the year-end Shakespeare play. "John" was a DS surprise in a multi-lingual family; he uses sign language to communicate most of his needs. Through the loving care of his Catholic family and the prayers of the faith community, his physical challenges are healing. "Amy" is an only child with verbal skills that increase every day. She likes to have friends over to play and is a joy to her church family as well.

Although any disability is a challenge and makes child-rearing more difficult, all four of these children show that Down Syndrome is a gift simply for the reason that they themselves are gifts to the world. They make their families stronger, more prayerful and more tolerate of the differences that exist in each person. Children with DS are gifts to God from God Himself because every child is a gift to God from God. And it follows, children are gifts to their family and the world from God.It is every parent's hope that their children will make the world a better place and contribute to society with their talents. A child with DS might change expectations, but then the parent starts to see the unlimited potential that their child has. The child might not be  conventional, but he or she gives more to the world than he takes. The innocence, optimism and hard-working nature of the child inspire other people to emulate their character.

Knowing these kids with DS reminds me a little of why the Eastern rites exist in the Catholic Church. (It always can connect to that for me :)....) Wouldn't it just be easier if we gave up our rite and went with the much larger Roman rite? Or perhaps we should just be Orthodox. As the state religion in their respective countries, they are so much bigger and powerful than we. No, we'll stay the way we are- small and unimportant, as a reminder to the world that the Church was one. In a similar way, it might be easier to not have a child with DS. There are parental expectations of worldly success that the child most likely will not meet and possible severe health complications.  But the child with DS reminds the world that all human life is in the image and likeness of God. The child with DS tells us that he or she is as much in the image of God as the intellectual and the athlete. The child with DS shows all of us that making a family is not an outcome-based factory; it is a domestic church that welcomes all whom God invites.

I have four physically and intellectually normal children. I cannot relate to the fear that DS parents might feel, knowing that their child will be so different. I cannot relate to the isolation that these parents feel; statistically, almost 90% of babies diagnosed with DS in the womb are aborted.  There should be many more of these children with DS, but they are gone from this earth. DS is much more likely with a mother over the age of 40, and more over-40 women than ever are giving birth. We should be seeing a lot of kids with DS. Most of these children exist only in the bosom of Abraham and the mind of their parents, perhaps regretting what they have done.

The personhood of people with DS cannot be denied. So the moral law of the Church applies to them as much as for any other person. In some ways, they are more 'person' than intellectually normal people. I look at a child with DS and I see a special son of God, given a coat of many colors. I look at the child  and I see a person who is closer to God than the typical child....

About this all-over-the-map, confused post: I wanted to write a post on Down's this Sunday after seeing one of our friends and being inspired by her and her family.

Then, this past Monday a bit of a blow-up occurred in the Catholic blogosphere- Simcha Fisher wrote an eloquent response to an article Jason Negri wrote at Inside Catholic. You can cut and paste the address to see where they were both coming from-

Friday, August 12, 2011

yet another replay

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was right when he stated this past week at a UCLA rally, "When we care about something in America that's really important to us, like football, we know the facts." Of course, he was speaking about politics skewed to his particular leanings. I'd like to explore the meaning of his quotation from a different standpoint.

Is spirituality important to us? Is religion important to us? Is the Catholic faith important to us? Is God important to us? Do we know the facts?

Are Moses and Jesus contemporaries, or do they come from different eras? Why are we constantly crossing ourselves in church? Why do we stand up for a blessing? What does the Church teach about artificial birth control and why? What is the difference between discipline and dogma,  between small 't' tradition and big 'T' Tradition?

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told the New York Times that he wants Starbucks to become a “third place” in people's lives. People have home, work and then a coffee house or bar as the three places that they focus most of their life's activities.

I'd like to think that we humans can handle a bit more than three important places in our lives. Perhaps a life is like a stove with  four burners. Two burners are in the front for top priorities, and two are in the back for important aspects of life that get less play day to day. I contend that for every believer, the Church should be on one of those burners. How can we be sure that God and the Church are priorities in our lives? 

Random Practical Ideas- Some from Mom and Dad
  • Go to church on Sundays and feast days. Discuss the Gospel and the homily with family over coffee and donuts. Many Catholics are hit and miss on Sundays- let's start there.
  • Don't shop on Sundays. Make the Sabbath day holy by going to Mass and then spending time with family at home, the park or somewhere besides the 'cathedral of conspicuous consumption.' This might seem impossible, but in most of Europe, shops close early Friday and don't open again until Monday. Everyone prepares ahead of time for the weekend. 
  • Listen to only classical or Christian music on Sundays. My parents insisted on this during my childhood. It really helps set the day apart from the rest of the week.
  • Say grace before eating a meal- even in a restaurant!  
  • Educate yourself about God and the Church through the Bible and other books. Watch religious videos occasionally.  Catholic school is not necessarily the best way to do this (sorry Mom and Dad- sometimes I think you wasted your hard earned money....but that's another post).
  • Print an easy morning and evening prayer card, place it on your bedside table, and say a prayer when you go to sleep and wake up. Nightmares averted!
  • Subscribe to a good Catholic magazine and buy The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Place both in the bathroom. Eventually, everyone will read these and learn!
  • Go meatless every Friday. Why not? Many people are vegans every day of the year. It is such a beautiful reminder of Jesus' sacrifice. And there is something a little bit....gross...about eating meat when we are remembering Jesus' death on the cross.
  • Get some holy water and use it.  Sprinkle it on squabbling siblings if you are so inclined (thanks, Mom).
  • Decide if you and your family are going to make God and church a priority. There is only so much time in the day.  Church needs to be on one of the four burners to be a priority.  --- What if the marriage is mixed? Hopefully, the kids can go to church with you. Then, come home and build a nice family atmosphere. Still refrain from shopping and try to have a sabbath.  Have a popcorn and DVD afternoon together when you get back from church on Sunday. Ask your non-Catholic spouse to participate in some 'corporal works of mercy activities' with the family- mow the lawn of an older neighbor, collect food for the food bank,  write letters to our servicemen overseas. The talents of your family will determine activities that will be interesting and meaningful to you.
 So- Clinton was right in saying that we make things a priority if it is important to us. It would be a shame if we know more about the latest celebrity scandal or sports stats instead of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Perfect Catholic Mom- replay

The Perfect Catholic Mom
  • doesn't have a television.
  • either homeschools with a classical, Catholic-centric curriculum or has enrolled the children in an independent- perhaps Legionaire- Catholic school.
  • takes the kids to daily Mass and confession once a week.
  • smiles serenely as her husband drinks wine and smokes cigars a la G.K. Chesterton.
  • prepares only vegan food every Wednesday and Friday and everyday during the fast periods like Advent (St Phillip's Fast) and Lent (Great Fast) for her Byzantine Catholic family- or meatless every Friday for her Western-rite family.
  • doesn't celebrate non-Catholic holidays like Halloween or the secularized versions of Christmas and St. Valentine's Day.
  • stays out of politics except to vote.
  • only buys fast food during the 40 Days for Life.
  • smiles serenely as strangers gawk at her 8 kids at the supermarket.
  • knits and/or crochets while she waits for her sons to finish altar server training and/or her girls to finish Little Flowers.
  • knows that her kids know their catechism perfectly.
  • can keep her kids quiet in church with a simple look and doesn't need juice, a toy or a book to calm her toddlers.
  • smiles serenely as her OB/GYN sighs when she comes in for a 12-week pre-natal check-up again.
The Perfect Catholic Mom (TM) is a figment of fantasy, of wild optimism, of impossible expectations and perhaps depression over self-imposed perfection that hasn't been met. Still, many of us Regular, Doing-Our-Best Catholic Moms (TM) find it difficult to reconcile ourselves to reality and our humanity. I am one example of:

The Regular Catholic Mom
  • has a television, but most likely with no cable. She likes the kids to be able to watch Blues' Clues while she gets dinner ready. She even might let the kids' see Veggie Tales. Less screaming when Dad gets home. Dad might like to decompress after work with a DVD, as well.
  • educates her kids in many different ways. Some kids go to parish schools, and others even might go to a public school. All good, regular Catholic moms, however, know that it is her and her husband's responsibility to be extremely involved in the kids' education. They know what is happening in the classroom.  I, a regular Catholic mom, homeschool my kids, using the resources of a homeschooling, public charter school.
  •  is always at Mass on Sundays and major feast days.
  • tells her husband that GKC wouldn't want him using Catholicism as an excuse for smoking. I might grumble about a cigar if it isn't to celebrate a new baby.
  • struggles with going meatless- it's so easy to throw a chicken in the oven! We have been doing well with going without meat during Advent and Lent- going all vegan is another story.
  • lets her kids go trick or treating- just no scary costumes, please! Balance everyone! Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus is fun, but Mrs. Claus- sorry- all bishops are celibate. She doesn't exist- Rudolph also doesn't exist- he's not in the original poem :)
  • can be a bit passionate about politics, talking too much at dinner parties and running to turn off talk radio when the kids can hear.
  • sometimes has pizza night from Dominos or another place just because it is Wednesday- and perhaps only made it to a pro-life event a few times this year with promises to herself that she'll improve. Meanwhile- where is my knitting bag?

    I think you have got the idea! We regular Catholic moms have the same goal as those fictitious perfect moms- we want to do what is right for our kids and help get ourselves, our husbands, and our kids to heaven. We expect a big family reunion- face to face with God and His saints. My greatest hope is that imparting a sense of balance with my kids will help them love the Lord. I might let them buy themselves Silly Bands to trade with girls after ballet, but they will participate in church and be proud of the faith that has been given to them. My big kids will sing in front of a casket at a wake, but I won't expect them to go to the three-hour funeral the next day if they don't  personally know the deceased. We might just say a prayer and make a good dinner for Dad when he gets home.

    I'm just a regular Catholic mom
    doing my best like all the rest- 
    trying to learn to 'smile serenely'...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PANTS! (?)- replay

another replay...

Given the attention over pants/no pants recently in the Catholic blogosphere- I thought I would throw my 7 cents in...

7. I'm not going to take the 'advice' of Catholicity writers. I'm just stubborn that way.

6. Seriously- where does it end? Traditional Catholic women with long skirts would still be considered immodest by Amish, Orthodox Jewish and most Muslim standards.

5. I have a lovely, charitable friend who does not own 1 pair of pants because she wants to be just like Mary and, historically, women did not wear pants. I guess our challenge is to find that balance between history and today. Believe it or not, we women have benefited from the feminism of earlier years. We drive, vote and have the right to property. I suppose wearing pants while you are whipping up a nice dinner for hard-working daddy can show that balance.

4. I really don't like this argument: "Well, men are such visual creatures- we ladies must protect them by not distracting them with pants..." Once again- balance! If a man is going to sin by seeing a Christian woman with 6 + kids because she is wearing pants, he really needs to get into the confessional more often and work on his chastity altogether.

3. We women are called to be obedient to our husbands. My husband has never felt the need to ask me to change the way that I dress- so this is not an issue for me. But as always, the flip side to the coin is that our husbands must love us AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH. A tall order- a reason why to discuss modesty standards and such with your husband is- if he is asking/insisting that you dress 'modestly'- meaning floor length skirts and the like- why? Is he really loving you? Is it possible that he doesn't want you to be seen as attractive by other people? Is it possible that he also enjoys the attention of single women at work, perhaps even pornography- even while insisting that you be modest and have your 6th child in as many years?

2. How about going with the standards at St Peter's- no cleavage with sleeves of some kind and pants/skirts below the knee. Sounds both reasonable and doable- and these standards will still set us apart.

1. Gosh- I wish we Eastern Catholics were big enough to quibble over these small details of life.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sad Days- replay

Here's a replay from one of my most commented-on blog posts (I'll write new material one of these days)

One of my favorite blog names is My Little Catholic Bubble- the writer seems to admit that her life is a bit insular, and she likes it that way. So, in a roundabout way, I admit that I am writing now from my experience and also from an Eastern perspective.

Do unmarried clergy really have more time to devote to the Church? This is the most common argument against married clergy- probably because people are trying to avoid the sex topic. Because of his bi-ritual faculties, my husband substitutes for Western-rite priests. As I have posted before, he is now a police chaplain volunteer for a department that has waited 18 years for help. He doesn't golf; if you see him fishing, his four kids will be with him. When he finishes his work and ministry obligations, he doesn't return to a rectory and peace and quiet; he has other family (the domestic church) to serve. Trying to be charitable here, fill in the blanks...but celibate or not- no priest can minister to 15,000 families.

Are unmarried clergymen bound to live vows of poverty, chastity and obedience like monks? My husband drives a 12-year old Chevy with 250,000 miles and dents galore. Our townhouse is 1200 square feet for 6 people. No cable (thank God!) and cell phones are month-to-month. No housekeeper, cook, babysitter- oh wait, is that me? Well, I homeschool and teach part-time at the college level, so the house is not rectory-level clean. We spend our own money to print bulletins. We changed to an HMO through his hospital job because the PPO went from $6000 to $12000 payroll deduction (!?thanks healthcare reform?!) But talking money is worse than talking sex! Trying to be charitable here, so fill in the blanks....

But I digress...the small little corner of the blogosphere I am referring to consists of What Does the Prayer Really Say, the Deacon's Bench and a canon lawyer named Ed Peters. Peters states that Canon 277 in the Western Code of Canon Law means that all clergymen in the Latin-rite must be continent (sexual relations with a lawful wife being forbidden). Fr Z seems to concur. Whether Peters believes that the canon should remain or it should be clarified for married clergy remains to be seen. The comments on all these blogs have been interesting however.
My first quibble is this:

WHY OH WHY do people think that by accepting the East's 2,000 year tradition of married men priests and their dignity and worthiness leads to....married men being ordained de facto in the West, altar girls, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, women 'priests,' clown masses, blessings with bubbles and sage, embracing divorce and remarriage, birth control, abortion, meat buffets on Fridays, abandoning Holy Days of Obligation, global warming, etc and etc...We just want our sui juris church to be respected. We love the Holy Father and the Catholic Church. Let me be a broken record for a bit; the Church is bigger than my microscopic rite and the Roman rite- no matter the majority the Roman rite has.

another thing to think about:

One question that has been posed a few times on various sites and which is not answered is- How does marital relations negatively effect an ordained married man's ministry? All married people are called to chastity and occasional continence. Ordained married men are no exception. Of course, discretion and dignity is key, but all married couples should be dignified in their public actions. I feel it is undignified to calculate conception dates and contemplate any person's sex life.

If the Church has allowed married men to be ordained as deacons in the Roman rite and are allowing a 'new wave' of married men to be ordained priests from the Anglican Church for the Roman rite, shouldn't there be new canons to address these issues?

one last thing...

a response to all this Eastern talk-defense of married deacons from about 25% of the responders at WDTPRS stated- "can't those Eastern rites just be influenced by us instead of always the other way around?" Reading that, I had to stifle a laugh/sob. "Subdeacon Joseph"-now an Orthodox priest- said it best:

"I would add to the priest’s wife comment that my diocese left the Byzantine Catholic Church officially in 1938 for Orthodoxy because the Vatican had betrayed the Union of Uzhorod which allowed for: 1) equal status with the Roman clergy socially and politically 2) retention of liturgical and ritual customs (including married clergy) 3) and the right to elect their own bishop. Sadly all three of these tenets were violated by certain American Catholic bishops and even the Vatican itself, and our people had enough. They would have been happy to remain Greek Catholic if they had only been respected by the Irish Catholic bishops in America. The most hostile of the Roman bishops was Archbishop John Ireland of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His outright hostility to the Greek Catholic married clergy is well documented historically."  

My husband is writing a history of our church (an ethnic division of the Byzantine rite) in America. It's a sad tale. In 1925, we had 150,000 believers (yes- always very small compared to the Roman-rite). Now we have 5,000. Many of the people went back to the old country right before World War II, just to be caught up in the evils of communism there. But we also lost parishes due to the disdain for our traditions. Married priests weren't allowed to come to America; the bishop's conference insisted on lending us bi-ritual Roman-rite priests. Families were told they would have to change rites in order to have their children go to Roman-rite Catholic schools. This Catholic bishop Ireland is commemorated by the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) as the 'founder' of the American Orthodox because of his hostility to a married clergy and its leading to the formation of a break-off church. 

So this is why my post title is called sad days. If we truly pray for unity, we need to respect the traditions of sui juris churches. So, I respect the 1,300 year old tradition of celibacy and, therefore, continence for Roman-rite clergy. But if we are to welcome more Anglicans back to the Church and if we are to pray for the full unity between true churches, the canons must be clarified by Rome. How can I dare pray and work for unity with the Orthodox when 'good, practicing orthodox Catholics' believe this (more from WDTPRS): 

"pfft, what you want and force the Magisterium to back saecula saeculorum. A Married Priesthood is coming to the Catholic Church. I know it. You know it." "If you think I am afraid of the emergence of an unofficial order of bossy “clergymen’s wives,” you are right." "a Trojan Horse to undermine the Consecrated Priesthood and give way to a form of Presbyterianism, complete with married ministers" 

...sad days, indeed...and yes, the Roman rite has the right to demand celibacy and continency of their clergy and since I am not Roman-rite, I have 'no say' in the matter. It is just sad when it comes to solution? Let us learn from our respective traditions and also build up those men who have answered the call to ministry. Let us pray for the Holy Father to clarify this canon quickly for the sake of the dignity of married deacons in the Roman rite.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Crafters for Life

Have you seen this youtube video where a Vietnamese man has single-handily saved at least 50 babies from abortion? This video was an inspiration to the Little Flowers Catholic Girls club, and they are slowly starting a crafting club to aid crisis pregnancy centers and perhaps orphanages. Only time will tell how far they go.

Friday, August 5, 2011

But You Get What You Need

We're too small and poor for our own church- we rely on the kindness of others and celebrate the Divine Liturgy at old convents, Roman-rite chapels and Byzantine churches of different ethnic jurisdictions.
We may be small and poor but we are rich in beauty. These portable icons were written by an 89-year old artist who has made icons for entire churches and cathedrals. Her son, a Byzantine Catholic priest who we have never met, donated a full set of sacred vessels. Her other son is a cantor and altar servant. We 'get what we need' from these lovely folks who give so much- materially and spiritually- to the church community.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want

What is wrong with this picture? 

No? Isn't it obvious? It is the perfect example of a church that is not going to make anyone happy. You see the 1970's banners and the wooden sun rays around the crucifix (as it is ordinary time and not Lent/Easter, the clay pots at the center of the sanctuary and the plywood-airbrushed risen Lord covering the crucifix is in storage for next year) to relate to the modern side of people. Then, you can see a beautiful tabernacle front and center as a nod to the traditional. And then, for the Saturday vigil, the Latin-rite priest allows us Byzantine Catholics to have our Liturgy there; hence, the portable life-size icons are there temporarily to simulate an icon screen.
Just as we lay people shouldn't complain when a priest coughs in the wrong place, we should also be merciful and flexible where our parish is concerned. We should do our best to cease 'church shopping.' This may be easier said than done. Maybe the bishop just sent a priest who is 'liberal.' Maybe our feelings got hurt by other parish members. Maybe the job that was 'ours' (choir member, washer of the linens, flower arranger, sacristan) was taken by someone else or the priest wants to shake things up by moving people around. Are these reasons to change parishes? Perhaps, but not necessarily.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Daybook for August

Outside my window...sleeping cat, red sun umbrella, sun, sun and more sun

I am thinking...that visiting family is fabulous

I am thankful...for my Kindle and for 300 mysteries for $3.99

In the kitchen...homemade bread and tortilla soup made by a lovely friend

I am wearing...a green shirt & jean capri pants

I am creating...meal plans in my mind- trying to copy Auntie Leila from Like Mother, Like Daughter (with 'save a step' cooking)

I am buy a sprinkler for the kids to play in

I am reading...Pride & Prejudice & Zombies on my Kindle...I'm not so sure if I like it at all. It is just an exercise in an author copying Austen's style with modern subject matter

I am share very big-for-me news in the future

I am looking forward to...visiting more with family

I am hearing...overly mellow jazz standards that the kids are dancing to

Around the house...big kids are teaching pre-school to little kids
I am pondering...the meaning of life and hard core philosophy-theology as taught by my brother-in-law

Some favorite things...peonies and non-gas station coffee and my own lap top

A few plans for the rest of the week...building my fabric stash and working on a project for Crafters for Life
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